Musings in the Dark: The Muse


The Muse

So I have a new blog buddy, Kdaddy23.  He was talking about some experiences of his which I think would make a fantastic novel.  I offered him a suggestion or two, which got me to thinking about the enormity of my own creative spirit. 

As you may or may not know, I’ve been writing ever since I was a child.  I knew early on that I wanted to be a writer; it was something that just made sense.  It was a compulsion and I defaced a lot of my father’s books for want of something to write on.  My mother recognized my addiction and bought me my first typewriter when I was eight.  I taught myself how to type and produced my first book shortly thereafter.  From then on, it was game on.  I read as much as I wrote and absorbed the words and the writing styles of my favorite authors.  It was just a part of who I was.  Mama got me a better typewriter when I was 12, and my stories got longer and more complex.  I actually wrote and completed my first "real" book at 14, which was a major accomplishment.  I even drew a cover and tried to bind it with rubber cement.

I also used to write when I was in school whenever the teachers lectured.  It wasn’t a secret; everybody knew I was scribbling stuff underneath my class notes.  Sometimes I would pass pages along for my classmates to read.  It never detracted from my school work, but it was an obsession.  I wrote stories that were an amalgam of what I saw on TV, what I read, and what I saw in my mind.  I couldn’t help myself.  Obviously, there was something deeper at work.  I was a moody, mercurial child; prone to fits of rage, and it was especially during this time that I did a lot of writing.  I couldn’t help it.  I was driven, but I didn’t question the force that drove me. I wore out my typewriter in high school, but I would sneak and write stories on the school computers, and if I could get away with it, print them out.  My file cabinet is full of my teenage scribbling and I guard them with my life.  No one will ever lay eyes on those stories.

I’ve developed my own style over the years and found resources that helped me become better at my craft.  I never took a creative writing class while in college; it didn’t make sense for me to take a class in something I was born to do.  But I did read magazines and books on what I could do to improve my writing, because I didn’t have a beta or anyone I trusted with my stuff.  It didn’t matter; the need to write was overwhelming and I knew it was something I had to do or I wouldn’t survive.  When I was angry, I wrote.  When I was sad, I wrote.  When I was hyper, I wrote.  If I was struck with an impression, there was nothing I could do except write about it.  God forbid if I was hit over the head with multiple thoughts that coalesced into one powerful idea.  If that happened, the compulsion to tell the story overwhelmed me and everything else became insignificant details.  Then there were the times when I couldn’t write a single word, even though I was full of ideas.  I would sit and stare at a blank screen or piece of paper and wonder why I couldn’t focus my thoughts enough to start a story.  It was frustrating, but there was nothing to be done about it.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and took the time to reflect over my life.  I realized that my ability to write coincided with shifts between mania and depression.  Sometimes the shifts are mild and sometimes they are extreme.  Mild shifts produced short stories and unfinished pieces with heavy undercurrents, but powerful shifts allowed me to produce novels (be they fanfic or other) with dark and deviant content; as if I was conveying repressed memories and stuff that I had no business knowing anything about.  When I examined my work between mood swings, I could not believe I’d written it.  The stories are laden with obscure references and multilayered meanings.  Sometimes I have no clue as to where all of the detail came from.  Sometimes I have to ask if it was actually me that was sitting there telling the story, as opposed to being a channel for a greater entity.

My insight helped me to understand the force that guides me: my muse.  There’s no rhyme or reason to when she visits, but when she does, I am sucked into her embrace where I happily reside until she leaves me.  She’s a lover of the greatest kind; a spirit which opens my mind and clarifies my thoughts until they’re lasers and I can see miles and years beyond my experience.  Truly, there is no better place for me to be, even though she makes emotionally raw inside and drains my brain until I'm incoherent.  I’m incapable of doing little else; I’m forced to go to work because I like living in a house, but as far as anything else?  No.  I have minimal contact with my friends.  I forget to get the mail, I don’t sleep, I forget to eat, and I sit for hours and hours in the dark and my fingers move like lightning over my keyboard as I try to keep up with the movie in my mind.  When I do come up for air, my legs and back are stiff and my hands and eyes hurt.  My stomach is furious because I forgot to feed it. 

These are minimal concerns because the muse is greater than my discomfort.  It’s a marvelous thing that my bills are paid electronically, otherwise I’d be screwed.  When I’m open like this, I can write multiple convoluted novels at once, and I can seamlessly move back and forth between them without confusing characters, plots, scenes or descriptions.  I thought that was normal, but apparently it’s not.  At least that’s what the people with the alphabet soup behind their names say.

I’m sure I’m not done talking about this.  I have some questions for those of you that are authors: do you know your muse?  Do you have one?  What compels you to sit down and write what you write?  Do you recognize it as something other?  When did you realize that, at your center, you were a true writer?  And does everything else you do pale in comparison?


  1. I absolutely know my muse. I too have been a writer since I was a child. It's not my career right now, but I know it will always be with me. I never thought of "it" as an entity before reading your post, but "she" really is. I write most often when things are particularly overwhelming in life--I think that's really when she comes out. And it doesn't have to be that I'm overwhelmed; it can come from turmoil in the lives of my friends or the world in general as well. Writing, my need to write, is a force that takes over, but it's always what I need at that time. So I suppose that my muse takes care of me, in a way. I think that she compels me as a way of organizing chaos. It's like she's saying "GreyGirl, you need this. So stop fretting, sit down, and give it to me. Let it out." And I do. And I always feel better. As for other things paling in comparison, I think every true writer would do nothing else if she could. It's my dream job, my lifeline.


  2. As someone who draws, I like to create stories that are not part of the mainstream's narrative when it comes to blacks. At the same time I want to install hidden messages within the story. I'm working on one story now that I hope will be the start of something new.


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