My Muse(s)

The term "muse" has its origins in Greek mythology.  They are the goddesses of inspiration for literature, art and science.  There were nine muses, but one of them, Thalia, was the muse of comedy and pastoral poetry.  Perhaps that explains why I chose Talia as my pen name.  I certainly love a liberal dose of comedy in books, and who doesn't enjoy poems about sheep?

Inspiration tends to strike me at odd moments, often when I'm far away from my manuscript.  But every now and then, there's a day when the words seem to come out faster than I can type them, when it truly does feel like a muse sits over my shoulder and guides the way.  Most days though, I'm searching for inspiration.  Here are some places I've found it:

Music:  Listening to songs that evoke a certain tone or emotion can inspire a scene, a character, even a whole book.  I am a firm believer that art inspires art, and I always create a playlist for my work in progress, refining it as I discover more about the characters and the plot.

My Real Life:  They say to write what you know, and while most of us do not have the kind of life that makes a riveting memoir, we all have moments and experiences that are unique to us, and that shape the way we see the world.  These moments may be big or small, but they leave strong emotional imprints that can be mined in a scene.   Oftentimes, these completely original moments can elevate a story from cliche to completely your own.

Characters are Everywhere:  Sometimes it helps me to cast a story with real people.  Sometimes I'll picture a particular actress in a a role as I 'm writing.  Some smaller characters might be based on random people I've seen in real life.  A lot of times, bits of characters, including hobbies, attitudes and wardrobes, are borrowed from people I've run across in real life.

Craft Books:  When I'm brainstorming plots or new book ideas, I love to spend time reviewing craft books about writing.  I always approach my writing with new energy afterward.

The Muses:   Supportive writing friends always inspire me.  I am inspired by their ability to push through the hard parts of this business, and their incredible talent.  But they're also the ones that will remind me that it's okay to write a horrible first draft, and who I can count on to tell me when something is not working.  Seriously, if you don't have a writing group, get one!

The Characters:  This is my favorite kind of muse.  When the characters become so fully formed that they dictate their own role in your story. Let them go!

The News:  Every now or then I see a story on the news that I can't get out of my head.  It might be a new science breakthrough, a real life miracle or an emotional journey.  Stories happen every day.  Some of them deserve to be retold, manipulated and nurtured.

Other people's stories:  Movies, books, televisions shows, documentaries...stories are everywhere.  Nothing inspires and terrifies me like great writing and story telling.  There is always more to learn.


I feel pretty inspired just reading this post, Talia. Taking part in writing staycations or even just a critique night with writing friends is always a huge inspiration. Art inspires art, as you say, and few things are more inspiring than a friend's rockin' manuscript and soaking up the vibes of crazy dedication to storytelling.

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