Mood of the Muse

by Debora Dale

My critique partner calls her muse, Tinkerbell. If you recall, though she was adorable, Tinkerbell wasn’t the nicest pixie in the forest. She was jealous and moody. She thought nothing of sabotaging those she loved if she felt those she loved had slighted her in some way. She was self-destructive as well, turning would-be allies into non-believers, thus having the life sucked from her until she was little more than a barely-breathing heap on a leaf. It took faith in Tinkerbell, belief, trust and attention, to woo her back to health, happiness… and helpfulness.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds a LOT like my moody muse. My muse goes into hiding the moment I stretch myself awake in the morning. Oh, yes, she lingers in the fog of dreamland, frolicking, teasing, toying with vague ideas in ways that nudge me out of bed, eager to start my day of writing. And then, with a snooty laugh, she skips off into Never Land.

I’m told this is because I expect too much from her. I don’t allow her to play. To tease. When she gives me an idea, I immediately demand more. I’m not satisfied with the idea alone – what are ideas, anyway? They’re not stories. So, I nag. I work her to the bone, expecting character motivations, goals… suspense so intense it will carry a reader from page one through to the end. I ask ‘why’ and ‘what if’ mercilessly, forgetting to take the time to savor the idea. Toy with options. Allow various scenarios to play out. I have an insatiable need to ‘see’ my story before I write it. That takes work – hard work – and my muse, my ‘Tinkerbell’, prefers to play.

I am to my muse as Wendy was to Tinkerbell. All seriousness and no fun.

My critique partner, however, is like Peter. She’s willing to play with her muse. She appreciates her muse for all her muse can provide and for HOW it’s provided. She does not push or demand. Yes, she may hang her head and groan on occasion, but she trusts her muse, her Tinkerbell, to be there when she’s truly needed. At other times, my critique partner thinks for herself. She plays ‘what if’, and Tinkerbell plays along. She doesn’t scold or demand, she trusts her muse, her process, and eventually, the words flow from her fingertips as if a sprinkling of pixie dust had landed upon them.

The muse is a moody thing. A creative thing. A part of you who wants to play, to experiment. A part of you who is turned off by badgering. Trust the muse. Trust the process. Allow the what-if’s to come in their own time. It’s often when you play, when pressure is removed, that the muse is most active – and accommodating.

In case you are wondering, my critique partner, Linda Ford – who is an inspirational romance author and an inspiration to me – has already had 26 books published. I, alas, have had none. Yet.

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