To Muse or Not To Muse

Several times in my life, I’ve been motivated by a muse.  I could claim a muse as simply an internal form of inspiration, shaped with imagination to have a face and a voice not my own.  I could do that, but it’s not necessarily true.

Kathryn Angel is probably the most prolific muse I’ve ever had–and yes, she’s a character, but she’s also a muse.  I built her out of four distinct sources, only one of which is fictional.  Since characters arise from what writers see around them, this shouldn’t be a surprise.  There are times when I work on stories, especially involving The Golden Hollow, and I end up thinking about Kathryn, using that character’s voice and demeanor to urge, demand, and encourage me to write what I must.

Yet hers is not the only voice I’ve heard.  Her face is not the only one that’s spoken to me.

Just as Kathryn has spoken to me as a muse, so has her counterpart, friend, and opposite, Commander.  While Kathryn offers a kind word, tinged with a drop of seduction, Commander offers a more forceful presence.  He makes demands and tells me that I have to keep going, even if I don’t like the idea.

As an aside, this reminds me of a story I once heard about Conan creator Robert E. Howard.  As the story goes, one night, he was at home, sitting in front of his typewriter and Conan appeared behind him.  The Cimmerian demanded Howard write his tale or die, so he started writing.  When the sun came up, Conan was gone, but Howard didn’t rest easy because he knew, when the sun set, Conan would return.  At least, that’s how the story goes.

However, I found myself crafting something a muse, partially based on fact, part formed from fiction.  Some of what inspires me, speaks to me from my imagination, changes with the turn of the seasons.  At times, I find myself wondering just what does my ever-changing muse want from me.  Then, time passes and I don’t feel the impact of my muse for a while.

Then I make things like this:

But my greatest success so far has come from my story “Dreams of Freedom.”  I’m proud of it, I love the story–and am looking forward to making more–but I finished it using determination and the knowledge I can do it.  I didn’t need any mysterious person speaking from my imagination.  I chose to write the story I wanted to write.

So, I feel I must ask, what does a muse really do?


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