The Muse

While I form the narrative of a young adult novel, I find myself pondering the muse in its varied, colorful forms. Realizing, as I do, that the muse extends to life itself. Let me first take you back to the night. In the realm of dreams we set the scene for our days. During sleep our mind strays to far-off places, playing with scenes like a mad artist. Or, at least mine does.

I’m not going to dwell on the metaphysics of dreams in this blog (I’ve dabbled in this area in previous posts), I simply want to relate how one’s dreams set the stage for one’s day. When we wake in the morning we carry the residue of our dreams like a sticky syrup, which never fully washes away. Because of our dreams we start our days feeling grumpy, groggy, out-of-sorts, content or in a state of eager joy, ready to embrace the day’s gifts.

Here is where our day begins, with the sap of the dream-muse. Sometimes it’s delightfully sweet and we savor its taste for as long as we can, and sometimes it’s bitter and bothersome. I spend many a morning wishing I had experienced more joy in my dreams, yet some mornings I have greater success removing their sticky residue. On these days I remember that I am, after all, the writer of my own script.

Which, brings me back to writing. So, I’m writing my first Y/A novel, and I have found I am not a writer who works by scripting, in advance, the entire plot, from beginning, to middle, to end. I didn’t even do this with my memoir. Writing, for me, is an adventure of trust. It’s about taking the risk of not knowing what will come next, yet trusting that the next will appear at some point. On a good day, on a day when I open myself up to the muse of life (and writing), I find what I am looking for and what I need. The muse is always waiting to be let in when I quiet my mind and open the door.

Yet, the muse is not always what we might expect, or think we want. We writers know how it can take us to unexpected places, some of which are quite shocking and uncomfortable. Our muses can lead us to our darkest secrets, or the darkest secrets of our characters. And, they can also lead us to limitless joy or help us find the next leg in our journey or narrative. So, while it behooves us to allow the muse to enter into our minds and into our daily activities, it also behooves us to remember who writes the final draft.

Perhaps we’re not quite ready to look under that boulder we’ve stubbornly placed in our path for so long, perhaps we only want to nudge it a couple of inches. Or, likewise, perhaps we don’t want our characters to morph into unruly and wild creatures who will scare readers away. Then, we simply take the reins back, draw in the slack and tighten our grips a little. The muse, after all, knows no limits. It’s free and without restraint. When we allow it to ramble it can skip and dance us all over the place.

I’ll confess there are days when I want to follow the muse deep into the forest (both literal and metaphoric) until I lose myself in its mysteries, but there’s always the mundane (joys) of life waiting to be attended to. There are meals to cook, children to feed, clothes to be washed. And, there’s that idea of a book tame enough to be shared.

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