The Muse – Illusive but friendly…

Every Writer has one of these Creatures sat on your shoulder. As do Artists, Musicians, Dancers, Crafters, Cooks… any creative pursuit attracts the Muse. So what on earth are they?

Muse Species

There are the species that I (personally) have encountered:

The Pen Muse
This is the muse that is attracted to Writers. It can look like anything; it’s a sneaky Bugger at the best of times, always changing form and hiding when you least expect it.
It delights in whispering in your ear just as you drop off to sleep or inspiring the weirdest of dreams… and when you try to write them down somehow, it runs off again, leaving a trail of gibberish behind it that is a pain in the arse to decipher the next morning…

The Paintbrush Muse
This one loves to sit in warm sunny places and will often curl up on whatever it is that you’re drawing or trying to work on. Yes, it often takes the form of a cat or dog – mostly because it adores getting in on the action and leaving hairs in the paint (clay, plaster, glue etc).
It’s also the best Muse for Dreamtime because they love to sleep.

The Tool Muse
This one usually takes the form of a Magazine, brand new tool, pattern or material. It is primarily a Crafting Muse , but I have seen it appear in the kitchen as well, usually after a visit to IKEA  or receiving the Lakeland catalogue through the door. It usually inspires a new crafting pursuit, but will jump ship to the next new tool / crafting idea after you’ve used it a few times, thus forcing you to collect tools and materials!

Care of Your Muse

Feeding
This is completely different from person to person. The Muse tends to enjoy your own favourite foods and beverages, so make sure that you imbibe and eat those things that it likes on a regular basis or you risk losing it to a Creative that will feed it in the way it likes.

Bathing
Muses like to bathe regularly, they can get strangely obstinate when they feel they are dirty. Again, the method of bathing is different from Muse to Muse. Some like to soak in a bubble bath, others enjoy the bracing experience of a shower.  I’ve come across some species that like to swim in pools and still others that appear to prefer salt water.

Rest
Muses appear to have different sleeping schedules to Humans. They can be awake and bouncy, ready to play, at the oddest of hours or sleeping soundly for hours. However, (in my experience) they seem to function best when you’re warm and snuggled into something soft.

Personally, I’ve found that the Pen Muse is the worst for inappropriate sleep – when I’m sitting at the desk ready to write; he’s curled up somewhere warm asleep and when I’m just about dropping off to sleep on my keyboard, he’s awake and inspired, poking me with his inky paws and telling me what to write next.

Sickness
You will find that when your Muse is ill, you will find it VERY difficult to concentrate on any creative endeavour. There is no real cure to this other than time and proper care.

Sorry if you were looking for a quick fix…

Play / Exercise
All Muses like to play.  What they play with varies. Some Muses like to exert physical effort and enjoy Team Sports, Running, Swimming, Walking… the list is a long one! Others will be drawn to Music and you can take them out Dancing or to Zumba.
There are more sedentary Muses as well; these tend to like watching TV, going to the Movies or playing Console / Computer Games.
The third type is in the middle of these two. These Muses that will work best with a varied play routine.

Playtime is usually when you can get the very best ideas out of them, but be warned; not every idea will be a viable one or will be what you are looking for for the piece you are currently working on.  Just make a note of them (mentally or otherwise) and keep playing until the Muse indicates that it needs to rest.

Training Your Muse

It is possible to train your Muse to produce ideas on command. They are fickle creatures though and you will find that if you try too hard to train your muse it could get upset with you and disappear on you.
Sadly I cannot advise you on what the best training is – it’s entirely personal to the Muse in question and often takes considerable trial-and-error over many years to perfect.

I have not yet found the perfect training regime.
I know there are writers out there that have trained their Pen Muses; they seem able to produce books / stories / articles  time and again without seeming to break a sweat (Yes, I know that’s not exactly true – I’m having fun here, leave me alone) and they have different routines that don’t work for me.
This is fine – part of the work of becoming a good writer is discovering your Muse’s training regime.

Meet My Muses

I currently have two Muses, this is what they look like in Resting Form:

This is Puff, the Faerie Dragon and Pen Muse.

Puff

 His favourite foods are Chips, Chocolate and Starbursts. He enjoys drinking Dr Pepper and Gin & Tonic, but will function (with many complaints) on Coffee and Tea. Puff is a Sedentary Muse, so prefers to watch TV / Movies,  play Tetris / Candy Crush etc and go Walking or Swimming.

This is Stardust, the Faerie Unicorn and a  Paintbrush / Tool Muse hybrid

Stardust

Her favourite Foods are Tortilla Chips-and-cheese dip, Ice Cream and Cake. She likes to drink Tea (mostly Chai and Earl Grey) and Wine. Stardust likes to go Swimming, Cycling and Walking. She also likes reading and browsing the internet.

Over to you

I know that there are other species of Muse and I should imagine there are as many forms to each species as there are ways of being creative.  I also apologise for the lack of pictures,in the Species section of this post; Stardust (my Paintbrush/Tool Muse Hybrid) has gone on holiday and I can’t for the life of me get the images in my words onto paper in visual form.

Feel free to add to my list of species, tell me what your personal muse is like or contribute images of what you think that the different species look like in the comments below – let’s have some fun!

100 Days to be Happy: Escapism

My house is stuffed full of Escapism. Everything from books through DVD’s to console games.

fantasy-escapism

Just so we’re clear, here’s a definition from the Collins English Dictionary:

noun 1. An inclination to or habit of retreating from

unpleasant or unacceptable reality, as through
diversion or fantasy

This can be a good thing.
Why? Well, The Dragon’s Tower (my name for our house)  is too crowded for the number of people in it.
If you can’t physically escape people, mentally escaping is perfect:
I dive into one of my favourite books; NOS gets lost in the Pokemon worlds in several different ways; TOH becomes Batman, a Skylander or an Artist; PT embraces her inner fashion diva and creates outfits for her dolls. PW is too young yet to need to escape…
Recently, tempers and tension have been running high here.NOS is Aspergers and he’s having problems at school with the amount of noise and stuff going on around him. He’s been holding in his temper perfectly, doing his work and generally being a good student, even if he’s reading in class a little too much!

All of those stimuli have irritated and niggled at him every day. Peace is difficult to come by at School and tricky at home  – his sister insists on talking to him, when he’d prefer to have some down time.

Saturday, he almost blew up.  Unable to take his sister’s irritating singing, our requests to dry up the washing up and the lack of silence in the house generally, he came and talked to me.I could see how tense he was. No one should be so het up that your muscles strain against your bones. I talked him down. I let him tell me what the problem was and then gave him a solution to put into place the next time he felt it building up.  I taught him a meditation routine – breathing exercise and music, and explained how to use it in different situations.

He was fine after that, but then TOH blew up… figuratively speaking.

*sighs*

The Dragon’s Tower was thick with tension so strong that you could have used it to build a wall. It didn’t help my temper either. I blew up at him back. He escaped by taking his sketchbook down to the beach; I headed for our bedroom and shut the door.

Escape was essential at that point in time, and thus, I celebrate the fact that we have somewhere to escape to mentally most of the time. Without it, occasions like the weekend would crop up nine times out of ten.

When was the last time you escaped and where did you go? Physically or mentally?

100 Days to be Happy: Knitting

Knitting Crazy…

Well… okay maybe I’m not this crazy about knitting… but I do love it.

I don’t do it a lot – I tend to work on one project at a time, ever since I had nine different craft projects going on and didn’t finish any of them when I was meant to.

I’m working on a third jumper for Grandmother-in-law at the moment. I’m using a lovely cream dk yarn with green-brown flecks on cable needles and following a top down pattern from one of my favourite books. It’s going fairly well, despite the constant interruptions from PW (she likes to play with the yarn, very much like a kitten…) and I’m anticipating finishing it by September.

The reason I like knitting is that it relaxes me. When I have a lot of one stitch without too many shaping stitches or any cables to deal with, I can let my hands do the work and let my mind wander. It’s very meditative.

I’ve come up with a few story twists that way.

It also gives me something to do with my hands that doesn’t involve food – I put on a lot of weight when I’m baking a lot… *looks guilty*

All of this adds up to me feeling more relaxed, so when the kids start acting up (which is a lot) or I’m feeling anxious & upset about something, knitting soothes me and allows me to deal with it calmly.

I can’t do long periods of knitting though. I have Carpel Tunnel and the repetitive motion of knitting makes my hands ache and go numb if I do it for too long, so I tend to alternate between knitting and writing.

So that’s Day #5… Knitting. If you’ll excuse me, I’d rather like to get another couple of rows done on the yoke shaping…