Moving Past Muses

Over the years my friends have all heard me refer, at one point or another, to my muses. Yes. Plural.

I had one for poetry, one for writing, one for drawing, one for pretty much every type of creative endeavor there was. It seems excessive, doesn’t it? Yet that’s how it truly felt -the inspiration for each type of art and creativity felt so different when the medium changed even so slightly. By laying claim to multiple muses it gave me an excuse when I hit a creative block.

“My poetry muse is on strike, and the others are rebelling because I paid her too much attention for too long.”

These were the kinds of excuses that I had when I hit a creative block, or daily life drained me of a little too much energy so I had no drive to create something. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the infighting of multiple muses (I have no idea how Apollo kept those girls from devolving into cat fights every couple days), but you’ve probably experienced the Excuses.

Excuses come so much easier than writing (or drawing, or baking). They are the deep-fried twinkie of the creative world. Immediately satisfying, but it doesn’t take long before you’re wishing you hadn’t eaten it. Sometimes you don’t realize that the deep-fried twinkie is the cause of your upset tummy (I ate the twinkie last week, how can it be affecting me now?), but it always is.

Finally, last November I found the cure for excuses. It’s going to seem counterintuitive. Many people will think it’s crazy. Yet it worked like no other trick out there worked. I killed my muses.

What? How could I do that? They were my inspiration!

Well, sometimes they were. Mostly they bickered, or accused me of squandering the inspiration they granted. They were temperamental and flighty and only helpful for short bursts. It didn’t even happen during a difficult scene. The girls were working diligently, sending inspiration my way when a black-clad bunny crashed through the window. With glass flying everywhere the Bunny Ninja started a bar brawl -which I’m pretty sure was a cover for the crime. When things settled down, my muses were dead or permanently fled.

I cursed the Bun-ja for days. It had completely derailed my plot! I had no idea how I was going to get back on track -especially without my muses. The Bun-ja just sat there polishing its throwing stars and watching me.

“To heck with you!” I thought and plunged back in without my muses to try and bring the story back into line.

Whoosh, Thunk, Thunk.

“Stop it, Bun-ja! You’re making it even harder to get back on track!”

Whoosh, Thunk, Thunk.

“Why would you DO that?”

Whoosh, Thunk, Thunk.

“What in the name of all… Oh…this is actually better than what the muses were giving me…”

It took several days of furious writing before I realized what the Bun-ja was. A furry, black-clad little blessing…that kept throwing stars on hand to keep me in line. With the help of the Bun-ja my story took on twists that I hadn’t seen coming, kept me from accidentally killing a character because I thought it added drama, and inserted silly little bits that turned out to be clever foreshadowing for future stories I didn’t even know about.

Now, I gladly embrace my Bun-ja. She (I think it’s a she; hard to tell under the mask and gi) is 100x better than my gaggle of muses. I encourage everyone to find their own version of the Bun-ja. Kill off the shrill voices of your muses, inner editors, and any other personification that speaks to you. Find one that is silent. That is the one that will truly help you accomplish your goals. They don’t speak, they only poke and prod. If they piss you off, even better. You’ll keep writing to defy them, only to realize 1,000… 2,000… 10,000 words later that they saved you and your story from getting lost in the Murky Swamp of Swampiness.

Currently, my Bun-ja has taken up residence in my dreams and has been throwing amazing story ideas at me, one after the other. Like shiny little throwing stars that stick in the back of my brain. I recognize that some of them are amazing (and some are weird… like the butterfly/dragonfly “spores” that fly up people’s nose and exert mind control over them… I think she threw that one because I was ignoring her), but I told myself I have to finish editing the novel I wrote last November before I can start on any of the Bun-ja’s new ideas.

It took a tripwire in the night (and a talk with my mom) to remind me that even if it seems strange, the Bun-ja keeps me creating… and that’s really the most important part of this whole endeavor. So Legend’s Legacy will get a break for a bit and my as yet unnamed modern supernatural will take the centre stage.

Here’s hoping the Bun-ja knows what its doing, ’cause I certainly don’t.

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