Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Myth of the Muses

Let’s get a little theological today. In the past, if you’ve been waiting for the Muses—in Greek mythology the goddesses that inspire creativity—you’ve been doomed to failure.

Yes, there well may be a spark within you that says “Write!” but . . . the Lord helps those who help themselves.

I got serious about all this in 1972 when I transferred to the University of Washington and began my junior year with classes in novel writing and short story writing. Many books, articles, columns, poems and plays later, I can tell you the Muses have yet to show up when I’m working. And, I can tell you, that writing spark is still there.

If you've been giving How to Write Your Novel in Nine Weeks a try, what you’ve been doing is becoming a better writer by writing. Over time, it will be easier for you to say what you want to say in the way you want to say it. I could tell you writing will become easier but it would probably be more honest to say writing won’t be as hard.

It’s seldom if ever easy. It can, if you work at it, get less hard.

Part of the myth of the Muses is the misguided belief, the sad hope, that at some moment, in a frenzy, you’ll easily dash off of a complete novel. Yes, O Father was written in a three-day frenzy but it wasn’t easily dashed off. It was a lot of work concentrated into a lot of hours over only a few days.

There’s a flip side to this. If you wrote your novel in a Muse-induced state, if a goddess merely channeled herself through you, it wouldn’t really be your novel, would it? But, nine weeks from today, it could be your novel. Your completed novel.

Just keep writing.

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