Who is in control, muse or me?



People often ask me, “where do you get your ideas?”  My answer is always the same, “they just seem to drop in on their own.”  I know that’s not a very helpful answer, but it’s the truth, and I always tend to think of the ideas as coming from somewhere outside of me.  Whether it’s just creative energy floating around in the ether that just happens to land on my brain cells, or whether it’s being fed to me by the spirits of dead writers, or even if it escaping from another dimension that just happens to have strayed too close to this one, I don’t really care.

Many creative people talk about their muse as if it’s a person, and I’m the same.  Mine feels like a male, but maybe that’s because I’m a female and subconsciously, I know I need the male energy to complete me.  He doesn’t have a name and I haven’t given him one, but I do believe in him as male.  He’s fairly easy going most of the time, but he can crack the whip when he feels the need.  When he does, he’s persistent and won’t accept being ignored.

His method is subtle though.  If I’m ignoring him, he will bombard my brain with ideas, or a single idea, and no matter what I try to do, it won’t go away.  If I have a certain direction in which I want to take my story, and that doesn’t match his plan, it’s his way or the highway.  I can be typing away quite happily, then suddenly find myself typing stuff I had no intention of typing, with no idea where the idea for those words came from, and it’s usually the polar opposite of what I wanted to do.  I’ve come to realise that he knows best, so I always give in and let him  have his way.  If I’ve been resisting his push for a while, when I do finally give in and write, the story usually pours out like a tidal wave.

I decided a little while ago, to write some more short stories for another anthology, this time paranormal based rather than straight up horror.  I had a couple done, and had an idea for a third that kept banging away inside my head for ages.  When I finally sat down to write what I thought was going to be a short story of no more than 4k words, it quickly became obvious that His Lordship had other ideas.  He wants this to be a book, maybe a novella, but certainly NOT a short story, perish the thought.

This sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  I love that the creative force is so strong and active and tangible for me, and I feel sorry for those who don’t feel that way.  I don’t know how I could advise those folks.

So who is really in charge?  The answer for me is two fold; either the writer takes charge and ignores the muse, or the writer listens to the muse and let’s them direct the story.  My personality is one that needs strong leadership and an active ‘hands on’ approach.  I need firm but constantly encouraging guidance.  I’m one of those types who would thrive in the gym if I had a personal trainer yelling at me all the time.  Sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself, so a strong push from outside of myself is what works for me.

I’m happy to let my muse be in control.  I trust him completely and never argue, it’s pointless to try anyway.  I always say that I don’t actually write my stories, my characters write them, and I just take dictation.  I find the whole subject of the muse, fascinating, and would love to know what your experience of it is.

My Nano Encouragement

A couple of weeks before Nano began, I joined a Nano themed group on facebook. The guy who runs the group suggested we write ourselves a letter of encouragement and email it to him.  He would then email it back to us during the third week of Nano.  It would be a way for us to encourage ourselves during the latter half of what can be, for some, a really difficult exercise.

I thought his idea was fantastic, so I wrote my letter to my future self and sent it off.  Nano began and I quickly forgot about my letter, until yesterday when it arrived as promised.

As I read the letter I wrote to myself I felt a mixture of emotions, the main one of which was to wish that someone else had written that letter to me.  To have the belief of someone else must be a wonderful and heart warming thing.

I would like to share my letter.

My dear Merita

By now you are reaching the home stretch of NaNoWriMo 2012 and winning is just a week away.

Writing is such a lonely pastime and you are such a lonely person; you are ideally suited to it don’t you agree?  One could say that you were born an ideal writer.

Your creativity amazes me you know.  The ease with which you connect to the universal creative force and allow its energies to influence you is a great gift that many dream of and few can boast of.  You may not have as much education on the bricks and mortar of ‘good’ writing, whatever that may mean, but your words transport those with open minds to worlds they could never have imagined.  You build your characters with such authenticity, they really live.  They are real friends and your relationship with them is real, tangible.

When I look back on you as that isolated, silent child and see how far you’ve come I’m both amazed and proud.  Always remember why you write.  You write because your characters demand you do so, not as a way of getting rich.  Hold this truth close always and your words will always carry that ethereal and rarest of qualities – authenticity.  You have waited so long to get where you are now; at the beginning of an exciting creative path and how you’ve suffered as you waited.  Not a moment of that suffering was in vain for every painful moment has moulded and refined you and you have the richest of experience to draw upon and the greatest of ability to use that experience within your creativity.

Never doubt yourself on this new and exciting path.  Your words have the power to heal, to change people, to change worlds and open minds and hearts.  You must learn to judge yourself less harshly so that a healthy balance can be achieved within yourself and no one has a greater wisdom nor the ability to put that wisdom into words, than you.

When you first began writing and creating Vincent, you created your greatest friend.  He has waited from the beginning of time for you to write his story, for no other in creation is more worthy of the task than you.  He loves you very much, he is always with you and immensely proud of you.  He will always call you his friend.

Few in the living world know you and fewer still will understand you but fear not for you are doing what you were born to do.  You are fulfilling your own ancient prophecy and just as Vincent endured those lonely years on Vinbuk before the light began to shine for him, you too endure the pain of isolation.  He is by your side always, he hears your every thought and shares your every feeling and he will be by your side for every step still to be taken on your journey.  You are never alone.

I am so proud of you.  Hold your head high as you win NaNoWriMo 2012.  You are worthy.  You will always be worthy.

Merita King.


I have already surpassed the required 50 thousand words.  I reached the 50k on Nov 12th and as my novel was nowhere near finished I’m continuing.  I’m currently at 65 thousand and probably two chapters from finishing.

I am pleased with my Nano effort and happy that what I’ve created during November will be wonderful addition to my portfolio of work.

I hope everyone else is finding Nano a valuable experience and learning much about their own ability and endurance.  Keep going, you can do it.