Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mugging the Muse

Some of you may have noticed that my posts have been coming later in the evening than before. When I was working at NASA, I found that getting in early and posting to the blog was a good way to get my brain working and get me ready to start the day. Since I've started writing full-time, I've found that I'm ready to get busy writing the minute my butt hits the chair (or couch or whatever) -- I don't feel the need for a lot of preparatory work. As we all know, you must never, never thwart the muse, so I've just jumped in and started working on whatever project is up for the day, putting off the blog post until later. I've not even been taking much in the way of lunch breaks, maybe 15 minutes or so. Not intentionally, mind you, it's just sort of worked out that way. At some point, I'm sure my work habits will flux again and all this will change, but right now I'm pretty happy with the groove I'm in.

The title of this post is blatantly stolen from Holly Lisle's wonderful collection of essays on the writing life. If you haven't read them, get over to Holly's site right now and do so. Really. Right now. Don't worry, she's got a link to get you back here.


Writers have kind of a mysterious relationship with our creativity. We personify it with names like "silent partner" or "muse," but really, it's just us. If we could figure out how to control our creativity, life would be much, much easier on all of us, wouldn't it? Instead, we fall back on pre-scientific techniques such as making gods out things we don't understand. You can't blame us for it -- we have to do something! I think, though, that the science does exist somewhere, we just haven't found it yet. Maybe that's why psychology fascinates me so much. There is a lot about the human mind that we simply have no freaking clue about. It's the last realm of black magic, really. Yet, if we could only pierce the veil, it wouldn't seem any more magical than lightening or fire. There are those who say this would take away from the "art" of writing. Poppycock. We'd just be understanding the process of art, is all. It wouldn't take anything away from it. I think that those who feel this way like the mystique that surrounds their success at the art, and they are loathe to lose that.

I honestly don't know how my creativity works, I just know that it always has. To the point that I actually rely on getting those flashes of inspiration. When I was at NASA, there were many times when I'd be assigned a project that I had no clue how to perform. But I wasn't really worried. I'd always come through in the past, so there was no reason to expect it wouldn't work this time, too. (Disclaimer: I think I also developed an instinct for what really was impossible, too -- I did turn down projects that I didn't think could be done.) This is nothing special. Almost all writers do this every day. But what I want to know is how do we do it?

Wouldn't you like to know, too?

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