Tag Archives: muse

Being a Muse

Much of my creative energy comes from interacting with other people. I do my best work collaboratively – at the moment that’s Hopeless Maine with Tom and the wider team, and Wherefore with Bob Fry and various others chipping in. My poetry, my blogging and other fiction work tends to happen because of specific people. I’m usually writing for someone or because of them and I like to flag that up to the people in question.

This leads to occasional conversations about whether a person might be ok with being my muse. This is often an awkward conversation. Where I’m dealing with another creative person it tends to be fine – as with Lou Pulford, Merry Debonnaire and Robin Treefellow where inspiration is passed back and forth and reacting to each other’s ideas is an ongoing process. But with other people, it can be a bit weird and I tend to end up reassuring them that they don’t have to do anything specific, I just need them to be ok with it.

I’ve not previously dealt with anyone suggesting I might be their muse. It’s been surprising, and has brought up a number of things for me. My immediate reaction being not to want that as a passive role. The idea of the muse who stands round at a distance providing inspiration by just carrying on being themselves, is not one that appeals to me even though it’s often what I ask of other people. I want to be active about bringing inspiration, I want to engage with what’s happening. My guess is that what I’m moving towards here is a collaborative creative relationship, because this is someone who inspires me in turn.

I find it interesting that I don’t want the role I’ve offered other people. But then, given the choice, I don’t want other people in passive muse roles either. I ask for that because it’s low maintenance, easier to say yes to, and for a little while at least it will help sustain me creatively. The passive muses at a distance get me through creative slumps, sometimes. But the people who really nourish and inspire me as a creator are the ones who make the deeper connections with me, who share in the process, exchange ideas and are willing to get their hands dirty. So I don’t want to be the distant, unobtainable muse. I want to be a co-conspirator. I want to offer as much as I can.

Thinking about it has made me appreciate how much I need my co-conspirators. Distant muses tend to leave me feeling a bit sad.

So no, I don’t really want to be Beatrice to your Dante – I looked that one up and they only ever met twice! I want a different story. A happier story. A story about mutual inspiration and co-creativity. And the only story I can see of that shape is the one in which I play no role, am only myself but am entirely myself and present and involved.  That way I might also provide signposts for other people who do not want distant and unobtainable muses.

I would rather be Nimue to your being Dr Abbey.


Flows of inspiration

As a Druid, I consider inspiration to be sacred, and as an author I find it to be utterly essential. As a consequence, low inspiration periods are really awful, and undermine my whole sense of who I am. Inspiration is not hard to find – the world is full of possibilities. And yet at the same time, too often lately for me, inspiration has been in painfully short supply. The quest for inspiration has been an integral part of my spiritual path for a long time, but to seek effectively, I have to understand what inspires me.

I know what destroys my inspiration: Exhaustion, feelings of futility and failure, lack of input. Inspiration absolutely has to be a flow, or it doesn’t work, and isn’t sustainable. When I get into most trouble is when I am not able to sustain that flow.

Creating has to go somewhere. I’ve sung to the skies before now (I was doing that yesterday) and that’s fine, if the weather is good and I’m feeling upbeat. Much of my flow involves a need for human interaction, though. I need to create things that resonate for other people. I’m not unusual in this regard. The need to be liked, appreciated, loved even, impacts on a lot of creative people and few of us are sufficiently self-absorbed to keep creating without affirmation that someone loves our stuff. Periods of not being able to find an audience, can be hard. I write best when I have a few very specific people I am writing for. People willing and able to be both muse and audience, who actually want words from me, and can cope with the emotional intensity this inevitably involves. That kind of relationship enables me, and it helps if there are a few (Tom does a sterling job) because I range more widely if I’m writing for more than one person.

The person who can be both muse and audience for me, is by definition someone I find innately inspiring. (Tom again!) That can be about their creative work, and often is. However, anyone who lives with passion and integrity, pouring soul into what they do, is likely to inspire me. Brilliant, wonderful, dedicated people do not reliably have time on their hands to be messing about reading my scribblings.

The flow of inspiration depends very much on my human relationships. I am inspired by nature, by landscapes and skies, but these things do not need a poem from me. They need my words dedicated to political activism, and might benefit from how my words impact on other people. I do that as best I can, but they do not need my poetry in any way I have ever been able to discern.

The answer to block, and lost direction and an absence of inspiration, is relationship. Where am I needed? Who can I offer my words to? Who feeds my mind? Can I find people who inspire me but who can also spare the time to interact with me? Sometimes those answers are bound to be negative, and perhaps the only thing to do is quietly weather those fallow periods, and keep looking for places where there might be flow.