Sunday, October 07, 2007


I think the word muse is old-fashioned, and suggests that writers sit at their desks, always waiting for a 49 bus; and it's just not true. Writers write, then they edit and then they write some more before putting it away. All the writers I know begin from a prompt or an old/existing piece of work; they don't really sit facing a blank screen/page - that's a cliché.

You see this image of writers in movies, like say, The Shining; he’s sitting there with his mind out seeking inspiration and is taken over by an evil spirit. There is also the portrayal of this character as one of these, ‘I’m going to sit down one day and write a book,’ people, who believe that writers do indeed just sit in front of their typewriter and wait for this thing, The Muse, to strike.

Some poets wake up with a whole poem swimming inside their head but mostly they’re pulling images out of their diaries and notebooks to create a piece of work that will evoke some emotion from their readers. It’s amazing when you are gifted with a complete poem but it doesn’t happen often. Usually you are scanning around for a political element to sink into your anecdote or countryside musings; musings is a nice comfortable word which is a million miles away from a capitalized muse preceded by the definite article.

No, I don’t spend time waiting for my Muse; the usual reason for my procrastination is just bone idleness. I can’t understand why my head persists in this practice; it makes no sense. It is enamoured by the amusing situations and characters but when the words build into the tens of thousands it seems to take fright and run off screaming, and I have to drag it back. I’m closer to death than I ever was so I’d better try harder to get it under control; otherwise all these half-written tales will never be born. I remember one day, in the bathroom, when I was five months pregnant; I suddenly realised that there was no going back – it was going to hurt whatever happened; this lump would force its way out of my body, dead or alive, and I would have to suffer the pain. I need to align myself with this image and push these creations out. So why don’t I just get on with it?


TitaniaWrites said...

Ah, but don't we all feel like that, eh? I did write 12 flash pieces in 36 hours last week, which was an amazing experience - but that seemed to be my Muse Time for the week because I haven't been able to sit and write since. Maybe tomorrow. Good luck with fighting whatever it is that stops you from just sitting down and doing it, which, in the end, is what we have to get on and do.

ireneintheworld said...

my god tania, 12 flashes, that's amazing but i bet it felt fantastic.

i listened to your radio story last night and loved it; loved the reader too, it all flowed beautifully. well done.

i did get some writing done today - maybe i've turned over a new leaf!