I’m not going to sugar-coat it… There is absolutely no way that the muse is real! Well, at least Muse the rock band from the south coast of England are real. Matt Bellamy and his strange space rock outfit certainly seem to exist but not the “real” muse! The mythical creative force which influences artists and whispers to writers. All rock bands aside, the question we are left with is this: why do people go on about it? Although I’ve just cynically denied the idea that a mystical force out there in the ether has any influence on my writing, where do our ideas come from? We can’t help but ask this question as writers, along with musicians, artists and all other creatives, the muse is an idea that permeates all the arts.
It’s a fascinating subject and something that I think is a really valuable topic to explore. Is it at all possible a magical dragon whispered to me in my dreams with the idea to write this post? Probably not… But it would be pretty damn cool if it did! I think we are in love with the idea of the muse, the magic of creativity so to speak, but is there any truth to it? I guess before we go any further we need to find out where the idea of the “muse” came from.
Where did the Muse Come From?
The notion of the muse seems to stem from the ancient Greek religion, less Leonidas with a spear and more Homer with a pen I’m afraid… I know Leonidas is very cool! The Greeks believed that no sane man could create art, at least not good art. Any artist, writer or philosopher needed to be under the influence of the muse or be in possession of the muses’ in order to create art. The idea of being at one with the muse was almost like being under a spell of insanity, which is perhaps where we get the tortured genius ideas about creativity too.
So is it Real?
This is a question up for debate, but as the world is becoming even more secular from religion and ideas like existentialism and nihilism seem to be more accurate, I would have to say it’s not real.
Who am I to say that though? I thought I’d look at some writers and artists to see what people at the top of the creative industries have to say about their work and the muse.
Steven King describes writing as a similar practice to laying pipework or driving trucks in his book “On Writing.” Making it seem like writing or creating anything is the same as any other job, it’s not special and above all it is hard work! Philippa Gregory author of the Boleyn Girl series is another writer who feels similarly describing herself as more of a historian than a romantic novelist. Even J.K. Rowling the creator of Harry Potter believes there’s nothing strictly “magical” about writing! Writers in this bracket are in good company, I’d say most of the writers I’d looked into have a less than romantic view of the writing process!
The Muse as Experience
Believing in a talking effergy is a little far fetched and the original meaning behind the muse has been lost. We now see the muse as our experiences and as people. Incredible novels have been written by great writers who saw a story from an unlikely source. People can be our “muse” , our experiences and how we react to them is what defines us. Seeing the people around us experiencing life, the pinnacle of highs and crushing lows, can often be referred to as a muse.
I can think of loads of examples just off the top of my head sitting here now. Think of Kerouac and Neil Cassidy or Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. People affect us in many ways as lovers and friends, Brothers or Sisters, Mothers and Fathers… Anyone can inspire us and surely that would make them a muse? So technically… The muse is real!
What do you Think?
Are you a firm believer in the muse? Or do you agree with me? Let me know down in the comments I’d love to hear what everyone thinks.