Finding your Muse
Finding your muse. This is interesting to me because I think, strangely enough, the word, "inspiration" is a block for many writers. (laughing) It's a strange thing, because it's supposed to be galvanizing you. And it can galvanize you, you know? Like if you're, if you feel that big divine inspiration, you can move mountains. You get caught up in the rushing currents of your story. It can really move you forward in fantastic and miraculous ways. But I think that that type of inspiration is really rare, and if you wait for it, it will be a block between you and your writing. And you know, I like to think about, like, where do these ideas come from? And inspiration, the etymology of it, in the English language, it's "immediate influence of God or a god," right? And so this comes from like the year 1300. And so the reason I have problems with this is that if you're waiting for divine influence, you're waiting for it. You know, it's a precious thing that you're waiting for. It's rare. It's...
certainly special and divine, but if you're waiting for that to start writing, it's likely not going to come. You know, too many people wait for those big moments of inspiration. The old French version I like a little better. Inspiration is like inhaling, breathing in. And so you're, (breath) you're taking in the world, you know? You're a little bit more in power of it. But still, it's something external, it's outside of you. You're not creating that inspiration. This is a, the inspiration also, I think the notion of it comes from Greek mythology. There were nine muses in Greek mythology, and they were in charge of inspiring artists in different forms. And so this is Rembrandt's version of it. The muse, instead of playing a harp, is whispering into the author's ear, so that he can write. But again, that's something that we're waiting for something else to come in. It is like that notion of divine influence. So I want to recast the muse. For me, you create the muse when you conjure words on a page. For me, the muse is like thousands of little sprites that live in between the words on the page. And so when you show up to write, you kind of rustled them up. And they start speaking to you. I think it's the different the big "I" of inspiration, which is that divine touch, and it exists, it's just rare, and the little "i" of inspiration, and that's the one you create. And that's the one that's actually much more important. I forget who said this quote. I think it's been said by thousands of people, that 90 percent of success is just showing up. So, 90 percent of finding your inspiration is just showing up. That other 10 percent's important. It might spark the idea for your book, but then it's not going to happen tomorrow or next week, or maybe next month. I think I only feel that big "I" a few times a year, if I'm lucky. It depends how you define it, too. Tony Morrison put it well. "A writer is either compelled to write or not. "If I waited for inspiration I wouldn't really be a writer." I've read probably hundreds, thousands of author interviews. Every single author I've ever talked to or read about says this, "It's all about showing up "and creating inspiration on the page." And this is what I think back when those 81 percent of Americans who want to write a novel and most of them don't, I think a lot of them are blocked by waiting for these big "I" moments of inspiration, instead of focusing on the little "i" moments.