Muses and Writing

(Thalia by Jean-marc Nattier)

(Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“I pray to Mnamosyna (Memory), the fair-robed child of Ouranos (Heaven), and to her daughters [the Mousai].

Sappho, Fragment 103 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (C6th B.C.) :
“Hither, holy Kharites (Graces) and Pierides Moisai [come inspire a song].”

The nine Muses of Greek mythology: Calliope of epic poetry, Clio of history, Erato of lyric poetry, Euterpe of music, Melpomene of tragedy, Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, Terpsichore of dance and song, Thalia of comedy, and Urania of Astronomy. They granted boons to the poets and artists of the ancient world.

Dante, cried out in The Inferno:
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your worth be manifest to all!

Long after wide- belief in them had died out, some artists still sang their glories.

From Wiki: “Many Enlightenment figures sought to re-establish a “Cult of the Muses” in the 18th century. A famous Masonic lodge in pre-Revolutionary Paris was called Les Neuf Soeurs (“nine sisters”, that is, the nine Muses), and it was attended by Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Danton, and other influential Enlightenment figures. One side-effect of this movement was the use of the word “museum” (originally, “cult place of the Muses”) to refer to a place for the public display of knowledge.”

Flash forward to the 19th century when Emily Bronte depicted her muse like a lover:

“What I love shall come like visitant of air,
Safe in secret power from lurking human snare;
Who loves me, no word of mine shall e’er betray
Though for faith unstained my life must forfeit pay.

Burn then, little lamp; glimmer straight and clear-
Hush! a rustling wing stirs, methinks, the air;
He for whom I wait, thus ever comes to me;
Strange Power! I trust thy might; trust thou my constancy.”

In today’s world, many scoff at the idea of muses. Perhaps this stems from the many would-be writers who bemoan not being able to write due to not feeling “inspired”. And they wait and they wait and they wait.

Confession time: I have a muse. But here’s the things. She isn’t a sweet, angelic thing who waves a magic wand over my head. No, she watches over me as I regularly type away. Sometimes the words and ideas come easily. More often, the words are crappy, and silent cursing is going on in my head as I try to figure out another plot snafu.

But then, sometimes when I’m still struggling at the netbook, but more often, when I am drifting to sleep, she comes to me and whispers the answer.

The Muse award those who work diligently.

Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm  Comments (19)  
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And the NaNo Race is Off…

Goodness!  Where do I begin?  What a few days it’s been.   Strictly talking NaNo here.  (it’s not like anything major was going on in the world yesterday.  *grin*)

I had to work Saturday, so my NaNo officially began at 10 P.M.  Then, I perched down on my usual spot- sitting Indian-Style upon the sofa with my laptop – tea within hand’s reach.  I was so giddy to begin.  Writing is such a solitary art and craft that it was warming to think of the other participants all around  the world engaging in the same activity, fortified with their endless cups of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.

Words rushed from my fingertips onto the page.   Hours flew by.   Finally, at 3 a.m., I started feeling tired.  But that was okay.  Surely, I had surpassed the necessary 1667 daily words.

I clicked on Microsoft Works Word Counter.

1317 words.

At that moment, it would’ve been less horrifying if the Borg invaded my living room.

My eyes were playing tricks on me.

I looked again.

1317 words.

Okay.   The word counter was obviously broken.  It wasn’t counting words beginning with “t” or “s”.


I pressed on another 45 minutes.  1532 words.   It was either give up and go to bed  or resort to typing “la la la” a couple hundred times.

Bed won.  Lying there, I wondered how I could’ve forgotten how formidable NaNo is.  But, then I pulled myself together.   My thoughts turned to Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson.  Anyone who’s read much of my blog knows Ms. Bronte is my absolute writing icon.   Dickinson is a new passion.   Not only were these two women geniuses- but more importantly, they were complete individuals who wrote exactly what they wished without a care what others thought.  What better Muses for NaNo?  So I called upon them for inspiration.  Invoking their names as I drifted asleep.

It must have worked because on Monday evening I reached over 9,000 words.  Yeah!!!!!!!

After a false start, I’m on my way.   I am sure during the next 30 days there will be other setbacks.   But I am even more sure that I shall be victorious.

How are my fellow NaNoers doing?

Call upon your personal Muses and Write on…