Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Let's Talk About Muses

"Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance." ~ Edgar Degas

Any time I interview a fellow author, or any time I answer interview questions, one of those questions inevitably is "What inspires your writing?" or something similar. This question is not, in fact, the same as "Where do you get your ideas?" though it's a close relative.

I find the idea question much easier to answer. Ideas come from everywhere! Dreams, newspaper articles, personal interactions, "what-if" thoughts while working out. A single image, or a single sentence, can sometimes become the impetus behind a storyline.

But the inspiration question is a little trickier. What inspires us to write? What moves us to pick up the pen and build something out of nothing? For me, I started writing romance because I loved the idea of two people together. I loved the twists and turns of emotion. I also loved the power of language, the way a simple phrase could make your heart ache. And I still write for all these reasons. But let's be honest: it becomes harder to find "inspiration" when you have a deadline to meet or when the pressure of another book looms over you. We lose the freedom to let emotion and fantasy move us with the wind, whenever the mood strikes.

Let's talk about Muses for a minute. Anyone have one? The most famous, of course, is probably Dante's Beatrice, whom he met when they were both children. Even though she never returned his love and in fact died young, history tells us he wrote in her honor, to put his great unrequited love on a pedestal. Sigh. What a love story, huh? I'll be honest: I think Muses today are a lot harder to find. Maybe it's just that I don't hear about the Dantes of the 21st century. Maybe it's that times have changed, and writers don't need the angst of emotion to move them.

What do you think: do we write in the abstract honor of a soulmate? Do we picture an unrequited lover as we're creating our next story? Or do we simply take inspiration from the family and friends and everyday life experiences around us?

How do you answer this question in your own author interview? Is there a single person in your life who makes your pen (or keyboard) sing? Or are you inspired in other ways?

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