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?