The Muse – According to King

I’ve bitched and moaned about my muse taking a hike and when I came across the subject in Stephen Kings book on writing it made me laugh a little and put the subject of my muse in perspective.

Here’s a quote from Stephen King on Writing – A Memoir of the Craft.

“…There is a muse but he isn’t going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your type writer or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (What I get out of mine is most surly grunts unless he is on duty), but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life…”

I’ve cursed my muse almost everyday for the last few years. I want to scream waiting for a spark, only to realize he’s got his nose in the air and a scowl on his face. He hasn’t been interested in coming down from his high horse. He’s pretty damn arrogant and there has been more than once that I’ve wanted to punch him in the jaw.

I actually kept kicking him out of my head as I found him to be more destructive then inspiring. My mistake was thinking that he needed to open up his mouth and speak to me. But like with most things that aren’t going your way in life, the more you push someone the farther they run.

What I’ve taken away from this little passage is that my muse can sit on his pedestal, observing the world while looking down on me with his misplaced contempt. Eventually we all fall from such high places and when we find ourselves face down in the mud, we do eventually get back up.

Will my muse ever give me that little bit extra I sometimes need? I’m not sure but what I do know is that to wait around for him to tell me something, anything is wasted time and energy. If you spend your time trying to coax a story from him, it leads only to disappointment and second guessing.

I’ve tried to find another muse. At times desperate to get inspiration from somewhere, anywhere only to be met with a silence that sucks the air from the room and leaves me feeling like the worst writer on the planet.

What I’ve come to believe, especially after reading this part of the book is that he doesn’t need to say a fucking word. He can continue to sit silent and stone-faced in the corner. He can be pissed at me, and hate me all he wants. It will never change the fact that my brain will always see him as the muse. Name calling, stomping about like a child or whatever else the little bitch tries to do to get out of his place isn’t going to work. I figure if I get my stories done despite his little hissy fits, his ego won’t be able to take it that I’m not looking to him to help me.

I’ve learned I don’t need him to tell a story and¬† he won’t be able to take not being part of the process. He knows that I’m not mad anymore, and if he wants to drop some nuggets of brilliance on me then I’m ready to receive them. But if he continues to bitch and moan or pout he will remain in his corner in time out for as long as it takes to get over himself.

I recommend this book so much. It really isn’t any “new” writing advice but it’s put in such a way that it’s easy to understand. All the pretension has been taken out. Call it a “Blue Collar” writers guide. The insights are common sense and simple and anyone who writes should read this book. Whether you’re a fan of Stephen King or not, he is a master at the craft and since I’ve been reading this book , I’ve become a fan of his. He makes it okay to be odd, weird, a little crazy and unconventional. In the writing world he describes, I don’t feel like an outsider. I don’t feel like I’m defective or not good enough and for that I’m very grateful to the man and the author for putting it all in perspective.



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