People always ask writers the wrong question. They want to know “where do you get these story ideas?” And we respond with answers that we believe might make some sense to the non-writer. Answers, that we hope, don’t reveal the subtle lunacy of our thoughts. Responses that might keep hidden those cluttered closest and toy boxes of our mind. The ones filled with the images, voices, and scenery that aren’t reality’s reflection, but more so just shadows of the world…or perhaps ourselves. Places, times, and people who someday may come together and form the worlds we create between Once Upon a Time and The End.
After all, we can’t speak the truth of it, which is…
We hear the voices of make-believe people. We see things that have never happened, but are no less real. At first, the chatter is no more than a busy promenade—an alien yet familiar place of possibilities. The disparate voices speaking over one another, images falling into new images, landscapes, buildings, cities, towns, of this world and of others, all rising and falling. Villains and heroes, friends and lovers, moving like ghosts, each asking: what if?
And then, sometimes, a few will speak clearer than the others. Their “what if” more intriguing than the rest.
“I know” we respond and a particular scene coalesces.
“It starts here,” we think…or… “it ends here”…or perhaps… “here is somewhere important.”
And from that single point, the words begin to flow—sometimes forward, sometimes backward, but it is no matter because there is something in that particular “there.” Something wonderful and important.
The music has begun and it will be beautiful if we can find our dance partner. That elusive mistress of words that will move with us through the next eighty thousand or so. And we want to dance…so badly…if only to make sense of this what if. Sense of it for our reader. Sense of it for ourselves.
But even that is only the smallest part of it. That is simply process. The “what if?” and then “the end.”
It feels like inspiration, the way a pretty girl’s smile feels like a spring day. The way the smell of rain brings back childhood memories. The way that empty journal feels like hope and possibility.
Still the idea alone is not the inspiration. Like that fleeting smile and the fragrant yesterday wind, there are many ideas. Hundreds, perhaps thousand of plots and characters in the writer’s mind. And we only have time to dance with a few of them in our lifetime.
The idea is not the story. And the story is not the reason we write. The true inspiration is never truly…when I was young…or…I had this idea. These are not the things that bring us back to pen and keyboard. These are not the reasons we collect all those blank journals. “Where do these ideas come from?” is not the important question.
The inspiration is the revelation. And the only question of importance and of substance is…
What inspires you to write?
Fame, fortune, notoriety? Those are the fool’s response. The selections of one who believes writing and story-telling are the same. Those are the goals of one who has never danced with the Muse.
What inspires you to write?
The Muse does.
A seductive creature dressed in the black lace of possibilities. In her embrace, an intricate and intimate dance of words, thoughts, and emotions. On her lips, an unquenchable passion that seeks rhythm in the verse. Her breath, the promise of creation.
The words – an intoxicating mistress.
The Muse – an impish and impetuous lover.
If we can guide her, if we can make her laugh, cry, fear, and celebrate then she will dance with us until the end. On her laughter our heroes will rise. On her tears they will fall. On her soft gasps, the plot turns and in her bright smile the story finds life.
But she can be impatient and unforgiving. And if we falter in the dance she will depart. Leaving us in the wake of her cold smirk. The one that taunts: You are not yet ready for me.
The story means nothing to her.
There are thousands of them.
The Muse cares only for the passion of the dance, only for the sweet intimacy of the embrace. The whirling rhythms of emotion in light and dark that move her across the dance floor. And the Muse dances only with those who truly love her.
Without her there are only ideas and words strung together in a wall that separates the writer from the reader. In her absences, dull, grey worlds made of simple imitations of another’s dance.
The Muse is the inspiration. Our work is temples and shrines for her to dance. Our words are songs for her to sing. Our love for her, a thing that has always existed—a thing that will always be. The dance, an unquenchable desire to again embrace her.
“Where do you get your story ideas?”
In a far off place where she whispers, Dance with me again.
Yes my love…always.
Well that is not the post I intended to write lol. And perhaps your Muse is not quite as seductive as mine, but would you expect anything less from a dark fiction author? It never struck me as odd that my Muse is female. After all, there are no limits to the folly of Men in pursuit of a woman’s love. And writing is my first love, so why wouldn’t she be all seductive lace and impish smiles.
Perhaps your inspiration is different, but if the writing is true…I’m sure it is no less passionate. If you’re a writer, do you have a Muse? Is it just another voice in your head? Does it have face and form?
Categories: On Writing