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Muse to Muse

I just got back from vacation and had a great time. Spent time in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (home of the rich and famous) for my brother’s 70th BDay. His wife had made arrangements for him to play in the PGA Honda Classic Pro-Am and he got to spend the day playing golf with one of the Pros (Ken Duke). I even got out to play a little golf, though not with a Pro. Then we visited other friends elsewhere. Overall it was a great time, though the only drawback was that I didn’t get any time to work on the Revision of my book.

But now that I am back I can start digging into my book once again. I will actually start rewriting parts of it in the next week or so. Up until this point I was figuring out what I needed to change (which was a review of everything – characters, settings, dialogue, conflict, and tons of other things that I didn’t know that I needed to fix).

So I started reading the next couple of Lessons in my HTRYN (How to Revise Your Novel) course. I am up to around Lesson 15 out of 21 (almost there – Yeah). And I ran into something in the Lesson that kind of threw me. Anyone who has been reading this Blog knows about my Muse, Willow. She can be…let’s just say a bit overbearing. But at times her persistence was the only thing that kept the book moving along.

I have talked about my Muse a lot and she even spends as much time writing these blog posts as I do, but this week she is still on vacation, so I will take this opportunity to talk about her. But before I do I am not sure if everyone knows exactly what is a Muse?

Going backwards in time, and I mean to Ancient Greece, the Muses first appeared in mythology as nine goddesses, daughters of Zeus, who were said to be the inspiration of the arts, especially literature, dance and music. The term Muse started showing up in English literature as early as Chaucer invoked the term in 1374. Today it is defined “as to think about or ponder something deeply; or the source of inspiration for an artist”. Not much different from Chaucer’s time. Though Muses have been providing inspiration well back before the Greeks.

That is enough history for now. But I heard someone out there ask How did Willow get her name? And why would you name your Muse anyways? And what about the Lesson? Well no one actually asked, but it was the only way I could bring up the subject.

Believe it or not some writers don’t even know they have a Muse. I didn’t know when I started the HTTS (How to Think Sideways) course in January 2012 even though I had been trying to be a writer for over 40 years. It was several months later that I was sitting in my chair staring at my computer without a single thought in my head. I had written several scenes, but had no idea where the book was going.

Then a voice said, “Your trying too hard.”

You can imagine I was a tad shocked. Even though it wasn’t really a voice, it was a thought that came to me, but felt separate from my mind…yet still inside it. From that point forward she talks to me on a regular basis and is my collaborator. I know it is just my own subconscious, or sometimes a part of my consciousness that I just hadn’t recognized, but it is still easier for me to think of these thoughts as coming from someone else other than myself.

As far as the name Willow goes, she gave it to me. At first I just referred to her as my Muse. And that was okay, but it was somewhat like talking to a stranger. Then another author told me how she had a Muse that she envisioned as a bird and when it liked something the author was doing it would turn blue and the author did something the Muse didn’t like, the bird would turn red. I talked to other authors and found out they saw their Muses as everything from bunny rabbits to hippopotamuses to the abominable snowman. There are a lot that also see their Muse in human form like I do. And a few of the authors suggested coming up with a name for my Muse. I wasn’t sure and then right away the name Willow came to me. I don’t know why. I had never thought of the name Willow before and not even sure if I knew someone with that name. But right after the name I heard “Willow’s have deep roots and sway in the wind, bending, but not breaking.” And this is exactly what I needed to get me through the writing of my novel and during Revision.

And the other great thing was that by personalizing my Muse it was a lot easier to talk with her. If I get stuck I just go, “What do you think Willow?” and most of the time something comes to me.

But what I didn’t realize, that I found out in the Lesson I was working on, is that everyone has a Muse. I guess it was a little elitist on my part thinking only I, an author, could have a Muse. The Lesson pointed out that Readers also have a Muse. And that while I was writing the First Draft for Willow, in Revision I needed to consider the Muse of my Readers and what they wanted. Not that I should change my novel just to make other people’s Muses happy, but I did need to take them into consideration when looking at what would make my book a better book then what I wrote during the First Draft. It was a bit of a revelation that, like many other things I discovered in HTRYN, I hope is making my manuscript something that I can be proud of.

And now that you know you have a Muse I have a couple of questions for you. But even if you don’t believe me, just go with it for a minute. Take some time to think about your Muse. What is it? Is it a person, an animal, an object? It can be anything you want. Does it talk to you? What name is it giving you or does it just do something like the bird, changing colors? Comment below and tell me what you came up with.

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