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Writing Advice

Musings on the Nature of a Muse

A muse is not what it appears to be

Woelf Dietrich
Feb 19, 2015 · 3 min read

I have something out of the left-field for you today. It’s A satirical look at acceptance and rejection and the whimsical muse whose attention you can never hold long enough before she wanders off to her next lover.

I believe each writer has their own muse who visits them frequently unless the writer creates an environment that repels that muse, be it through a surly mood or possibly incessant insecurities that gnaw at the psyche or any factor really that serves to disrupt creative flow.

Three years ago, I wrote that my muse is an ample-bosomed woman who whispered things in my ear and showed off her assets to inspire me. It is funny how things have changed. Since then, I have written many words, and I’ve read many more, and I have come to the realization that there is more to my muse than meets the eye. In fact, my muse was never a woman, nor was it a man. It was…is an entity that shifted its appearance and nature according to my mental state and experience. In other words, it became what this writer needed to write.

I write through times when I don’t feel like writing. When it feels like my keys are unresponsive and my fingers are made of lead and acid. Where the words don’t flow but feel like they are being spat out, one at a time. And yet I keep writing because my goals are bright and waiting and because I know that writing is the only way forward.

That thing that drives me to continue, despite my reservations, is my muse. Whoever said your muse is supposed to make life comfortable for you? Your muse is whatever it needs to be, so you can keep writing.

Right now, my muse is my children smiling at me and making cute faces, waiting while I carve out a future for them. Then, when the pressure of failing gets too much, my muse turns into Hemingway. Hemingway, calling from the beyond, looking at me with arrogant eyes and that half-grin of his, telling me how I’m not a writer, that I need to bleed out before I’ll ever be a shadow of one and even then I’d still be just a pretender. And I respond to him with a “Fuck you; I still admire you” half-smile of my own. Then Hemingway turns into a Mediterranean island somewhere to the left of Greece. I see myself sitting there at a cafe near the beach wearing a pink shirt and plastic-framed Oliver Peoples sunglasses and sipping an ice-cold beer from a bottle, condensation wet against my palm. And I look up at that cloudless white sky and follow the sun’s warm gaze as the ocean shimmers with its brilliance, and I smile to myself, knowing that after this drink, I’ll go back to my writing because I can and because this is the life I wanted.

And when I wake from my reverie, my muse fading like smoke in a breeze, I know what I have to do, and that writing and moving forward is the only way for anything to get done.

Maybe your muse is a demon. Perhaps it’s a fantasy. Or perhaps it is that thing right there in the back of your mind that keeps you company while you write. That holds your hand or spits in your eye.

That thing is a contradiction. And the best way to deal with a contradiction is not to be one. By being stubborn and unbending. By writing even if it hammers against the walls in your mind. Only then will you realize that your muse is a lonely creature who only wants your acceptance, but before that can happen, you need acceptance of yourself with all your insecurities, vices, and shortcomings. You are what you are, and that is a great thing.

It is then that you’ll realize your muse is just you looking for a valid excuse to either fail or to strive for excellence.

Originally published at on February 18, 2015.

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