Thursday, July 9, 2009

Finding your Muse


Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King:

How to Draw a Picture (Part 5)

Don't be afraid to experiment; find your muse and let her lead you. As her talent grew stronger, Elizabeth's muse became Noveen, the marvelous talking doll. Or so she thought. And by the time she discovered here mistake -- by the time Noveen's voice changed -- it was too late. But at first it must have been wonderful. Finding one's muse always is.

Must your muse be a person? Well, it certainly can be, but it doesn't have to be.

Your muse can be the questions you need answered or pain you want to make sense of. It can be the parts of your life you've just glanced over but never really delved into. Your children's future can be your muse; your own peace of mind.

In short, your muse is what inspires you to create when you're not feeling particularly creative; to work when you'd rather sleep, to promote yourself when you'd rather just find a quiet place to hide away from the world.

So, what drives me to create? Different things in different circumstances. But if I'm being honest (and I usually am), what drives me is the something my dad told me over and over as a child. Before I get into this, I need to tell you that my dad and I have a very good relationship now, and I don't hold any ill will towards him. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. But I digress...

His philosophy was anything worth doing is worth doing well. Which I believe is a true and noble directive. His paraphrasing of that expression is what has caused me to struggle with overcoming some obstacles, the biggest of which was self doubt. I still struggle with that. I think we all do to a certain extent. So, what were my dad's exact words? These:

"If you going to do something half-ass, don't do it at all!"

Adults often make the mistake of assuming children think the way they do. When I heard that statement, my first thought was, "Okay. I won't do it at all." So things that were difficult for me I simply avoided. I convinced myself that I wasn't really good at anything. But God knew better. I suppose I'm a bit of a later bloomer. I didn't really know what I was good at creatively until my thirties. I spent a whole lot of years simply existing, not living. But somewhere along the line a passion for art in many forms was ignited. It's scary, and difficult at times, but living is so much more fulfilling than existing, don't you think?

So...find your muse yet?

11 comments:

Chris Sullivan said...

I haven't found mine but I can't definitely relate to saying okay, I'll do nothing at all. If I do nothing I can't fail. If I do nothing nobody can bother me. In the end I did nothing and I wasn't alive.

As much as I love all your guest authors, I wish we got more of your writing. I love it.

Joanne Sher said...

I think dads are like that. I've heard very similar words from my own father. And I DO believe I have found my muse - it's my Lord. (though it doesn't ALWAYS work, of course LOL) Great post.

Annie K said...

I don't know about muse but I write my best posts when I'm in the car or garden. Then I forget them when I get to the computer. I really need to get a recorder.

Billy Coffey said...

Living is indeed much more fulfilling than existing. I've tried both.

It took me a long time to find my muse, but all the struggle has been worth it. Finding the muse is always a wonderful experience, albeit a scary one. But scary and wonderful often go hand in hand.

I think your dad's words sum up what having a muse is all about. It helps you give your all and refuse for anything less than art.

sherri said...

Wise words from your pops! I know exactly what he means.

Beth said...

It's funny. I used to write lots and lots of songs as a moody and romantic teenager and young adult mostly centered on love, my relationships, God...

Now when I find the time (ha!) to sit alone at the piano, I find myself not creating new songs, but just making someone else's songs my own. I love the process of that.

Why the switch? I dunno. Some of it certainly is just my stage of life. But I also see less of a need to prove "how creative I am" to myself these days and more of a need to just worship when I get a chance. Never really thought about the "why" before behind the shift. Thanks for that. So I guess I would name "need to worship God" as my muse? At least the current and dominate muse!

L.L. Barkat said...

Laughing about your dad's candid advice (gee, are you *his* daughter? :)

My muse is always a person. Even if he/she doesn't actually exist.

jasonS said...

I used to get that from my parents in the form of "why do always half-way do things." It didn't matter what it was and after a while, it became very disheartening and I didn't want to try. I still struggle not so much with completing things, but believing I'll complete them because I "always" half-way do things.

So far I have spared my kids from this one, but I'm sure there's plenty of other unintentional psychological damage to go around...

Jim H said...

This is funny - so far I'm a lurker and sometime commenter, but recently been contemplating starting to blog. This morning I was trying to think of what to call it, and "Half-fast" is what came to mind. Then I read your post this morning and laughed out loud - thanks!

Shark Bait said...

I found my muse.

Next step?

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

I'd forgotten how much you and I were alike. ;)

I've been thinking about what drives me to write. Still mulling that over, but I think it's encounters with grace.

I grew up a perfectionist who dealt with it by doing nothing. Coming face to face with my imperfection + God's grace has not only made it possible for me to actually write, but also gave me a subject to write about.

Doing that AND making people laugh are my priorities. Still figuring out how to do that at the same time tho...