Justine Larbeliester (an amazing wonderful person, married to another wonderful person) has been posting about writing novels. You really should be reading her blog. She has the greatest ability to expound on subjects and imbue them with humor.
She recently had a post about muses. She doesn't believe in them. That's fine. Many writers don't have Muses, and they're excellent writers. Some writers can explain the Muse away with plumbing the depths of the subconsciousness. Other writers just chalk it all up to having ideas, they know they get ideas, it's all them, even if they don't understand it. Sure, there's all that.
I have a Muse. She is there, I can feel her moving, just as I can feel the trickster moving. When I'm in her embrace the writing is easy. It all just comes out. The words flow, and sometimes (just sometimes) those words are magical. Sometimes, it's all crap.
Hey, it's the truth. Look, no fiction sales yet. If having a Muse was a sure fire way to write deathless prose, I'd be published for my fiction. Muses don't work that way. Muses bring out the best in you, not the best in the world. My Muse is working with what she has. Which, while it's getting better, isn't the best. I'm no Neil Gaiman.
So, just what does a Muse do?
The Muse gets my ass up off the couch and in the chair in front of the keyboard. Not from her inspiration or commandment, but from my desire to feel her flow through me. It's like a drug. I need it. I write to find it. She's not always there, and sometimes she gives just a little.
See that last entry on Cat Valente's advice (which you really need to read). I wrote that wanting to let you all know. What did the Muse do? Well, she wrote the "Drink deep from her well," line. Did I type it, sure. Did I think it, yes. But she wrote it. How do I know? I had to rewrite that entire paragraph to punch up the Norn allusion. That was the Muse's contribution, Cat=Norn. It was up to me to get all the details correct.
Sometimes the Muse will drop whole scenes in my head. It may be a motion picture, usually it's a still photo. Or she could drop text in my head (those are moments of panic, as she doesn't wait for me to get to a keyboard or paper, and her timing is not always the best). However the best work she does is as I type.
If you think having a Muse means it's all skittles and beer, that the typing comes easy, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the sites, well, you're Muse is different than mine. My Muse works me hard. She expects me to do the heavy lifting. And if I don't listen to her, if I don't do the work? She goes away; for a long time. That's not good.
If you think having a Muse is an excuse for not writing, because you're waiting for inspiration, you're not doing it correctly (or your Muse is different). I write to channel the Muse. Sure, she'll smack me upside the head with something when I'm not ready, but the majority of her work is looking over my shoulder and adding little bread crumbs to the trail. Only later do I discover them.
So, the question for me is "Why write?" Really. I can make more money doing freelance design. My day job and night job would certainly like it if I stopped writing. Writing short stories in SF/F/H does not pay. So why do it? There's the Muse again. Heck, this whole blog is hers. Yes, I write the words, I do the photos, the silliness, the pissedness, all of that. But she is here. She made me do this. It was her thought that if I wasn't going to use all the ideas she gave me, somebody might be able to. Hence the story bones.
Could I dissect the Muse down to the balance of grey and white matter in my head, the ability of my neurotransmitters to fire in certain patterns, the workings of the subconscious mind (which is 16X faster than the conscious mind, BTW), giving all of those enough stimulation to keep them going? Sure, probably. But what a barren, joyless world that would be.
I have a Muse. She can be a pain in the rear sometimes, and a hard task master at others, but I'm keeping her. If you want to take my Muse, you're going to have a fight on your hands. She's that good. She rocks my world and keeps me sane.
And because I know Camille is watching, this is a little over 840 words. Time and words better spent on stories and the novel for sure. But I feel better now. And so does my Muse. After all, she made me write this.