The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Grasping The Muse

Kiss of the Muse

Kiss of the Muse, by Paul Cezanne

First, some updates: today marks the official launch of Bauhaus Online Creative, my new freelancing site that is replacing The Web Wrangler. So now I can stop being preoccupied with that, and start being preoccupied instead with my next big personal web project, which will be to build a custom theme for this here blog. Excitement!

Also, today I finally started using my Google+ profile, so I guess it’s no longer pointless to add me to your circles.

And now to the real reason for this post. The other night I dreamed the beginning of my next novel. I woke up from that dream and turned that strange scene over and over in my brain until not only did it make sense, but I had an entire plot to go along with it. And after two days of scribbling furiously in my notebook whenever I could grab some quiet time, I now also have a five page outline, and I can’t wait to write this book.

I think I’m going to make some writers hate me by saying that this is usually how it happens for me. It’s not usually an actual dream–usually I’m daydreaming when the seed of a new story hits me like a torpedo and instantly germinates in the fertile ground of my imagination. I kind of want to delete that last sentence, because it sounds a little pretentious, but that’s really the best description for how it happens.

I read blogs all the time from professional writers who say that this doesn’t actually happen, that working writers can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to strike, they have to learn how to craft plots out of thin air at the drop of a hat. Being what I still consider something of a novice, I heed that advice, wanting to be ready for the day when I need to write to eat and I don’t have any inspired plots to fall back on; and so I’ve taught myself how to dig deep for ideas, how to use prompts to force inspiration and puzzle plots together out of, literally, random words and the roll of the dice. I think that’s a good and important skill for a writer to have, and some writers have built successful careers out of that skill. And yet…

I have yet to actually write any of the stories I’ve developed using those methods. The stories that actually get written, the ones I’m most willing to devote six months or more of my life to crafting into a readable novel? Those are the ones that just come to me as if by magic, handed to me by my muse on a gilded platter. Those are the stories that come from my heart, the stories I can’t NOT write down. I know that it’s an uncommon blessing to receive that kind of inspiration — even for me it happens less than once a year — and when it does happen I feel a responsibility to honor the gift I’ve been given by telling the story to the best of my ability.

I’ve been blessed with a new story to tell. Now if I could also be blessed with the time to tell it, my life would be complete. 🙂

How does inspiration happen for you? Do you have to work for it, or are you one of the lucky ones who just has to sit still enough to get struck?


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  1. I’m like you, though I’m not always day dreaming when inspiration strikes. It can happen anywhere, anytime, though, and sometimes I can urge it along by brainstorming, but usually it just happens.

    For me, it’s usually an image I get. Weeping Willow was like that – I got an image of a girl crying in the forest, and I had to know WHY. For my still-waiting-to-be-rescued 2009 NaNo (Father Time), it was an image of a doorway made of light in the middle of a dark meadow, followed by an image of Father Time that I won’t go into now because it’s vital to the story :D.

    My most recent idea, from the Nightgale flash fiction challenge I did this month, was the image of a bloodied and bruised girl, dressed in a blue gown, standing before a judge in a fixed court. The look of torment in the judge’s eyes, and the look of forgiveness in hers, suddenly clicked in my head and I realized they were lovers. I can’t wait to have time to play with this story more! 😀

    • Jean

      It used to happen a lot more often for me when I lived in Claremore and had to commute to Tulsa to work. Getting stuck in traffic on 169 with nothing to do but stare out the window does wonders for generating new stories.

      Those images you describe all sound cool, but I’m really intrigued by that last one. I really hope you write that story.

  2. I have to agree with you on this too. I’ve heard many times about the art of shaping plots and stories from absolutely nothing, but it never seems to work that way for me. Even if I get what feels like a good idea from that, it never blossoms like my other ideas do.

    Like Rebekah said mine typically starts with an image. Even my short stories often start this way. My muse postings both this week and next week on my blog are about these “images” I sometimes get, more specifically one of the most important ones I’ve ever had for my Forbidden trilogy that I’m currently working on. It’s interesting how that works sometimes, seemingly out of thin air and you may not even realize the story it comes with just yet, but deep inside you know you have to find out.

    Best of luck on the new story and may time be on your side to give you the opportunity to work on it!! Congratulations on the new inspiration! The feeling that gives you is always a blessing. =)

    • Jean

      It really is a great feeling when it happens. It’s always a rush, and it’s so tempting to drop everything and start writing on it right away. But I’m committed to finishing Dominion first, so it will have to wait a while.

      Looking forward to your Muse posts!

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