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.