Musing about inspiration and creative nudges.

motivation inspiration creative writing

Kubla Khans and Xanadus

By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

I’ve picked up five or six books in the last half hour – all of them instruction manuals of one sort of another designed to motivate, nurture and encourage the aspiring writer.

And not a one had anything worth saying.

Well…what I mean is…none of them had anything to say that I felt like hearing. One chapter I skimmed through was all about the descriptive wonders to be found via a short trip to the zoo.

Zoos depress me. The monkeys know.

Next!

Another chapter, this one about the tit-for-tat relationship involved in swapping book jacket blurbs.

Um…I don’t have a book jacket, nor do I know anyone else who’s burdened in this manner.

Next!

Oh…look here…something about the importance of dialogue.

Huh. Don’t feel much like talking today – and my characters are similarly mute.

Onward we go!

Hmm…this writer wants to talk about finding a muse. Or is it Muse? Anway, sounds like a great idea – I could use some outside inspiration.

Oh wait…it’s really just an excuse to discuss the difference between writing and listening to music. Not quite what I had in mind.

But I like the notion of a muse. Wouldn’t it be great to have some lighthearted, bedazzled and be-winged creative angel willing to swoop in and sprinkle a little pixie dust on your keyboard? I mean…I certainly wouldn’t abuse the privilege, but surely a tiny “push” now and would be manageable.

But how does one go about finding a muse? Particularly if you – like me – are not prone to wandering the rainswept moors searching for ghostly enlightenment in the twilight’s fog.

And I don’t know about you, but it’s been a while since a raven brought me any whispered portents or omens. In fact, most of the birds in my life – and I’m surrounded by ravens, gulls, scrub jays and woodpeckers on a daily basis – are silent on the topic of writing, creative writing or artistic expression of any kind.

So, since I’m not some 18th-century romantic poet – and I’m clearly not Edgar Allen Poe, despite my rather gloomy countenance as of late – I go where all modern, efficient, writers go for answer – Google.

“How do you find a muse?” garners over 72-million results. Clearly I am not alone on this quest.

“Find me a muse” leads me first to a Facebook fan page and then to the blog of a delightful fashion aficionado and photographer who, alas, has no step-by-step formula for finding a muse.

Google also offers me tickets to see Muse in Glasgow (apparently they performed at the Olympics – so “yeah google” for exposing me to some new music…they sound appropriately operatic and bombastic like all good Brit rock ), but I’m not quite ready to jump on a plane to Scotland, although it’s on my list!

According to Wikipedia, the nine muses were part of Greek mythology, and they were “considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.”

Kinda reminds me of one of my favorite movies as a kid – Xanadu (Olivia Newton John plays a muse brought to life who falls in love with some sort of graffiti artist and Gene Kelly is involved and there are lots and lots of skating and singing…seriously…you should check it out).

Sadly, reading about muses has not actually conjured up my own personal creative cheerleader. I suspect it’s not quite like Xanadu (or the film The Muse by Albert Brooks) and I probably shouldn’t expect a tall blonde to come waltzing into my office full of unique and wonderful ideas. That’s okay though because I’m not really a middle-aged Hollywood film producer…so sure that kind of muse probably wouldn’t be helpful anyway.

But still…I’d like to have something mystical to believe in. It’d be nice to know that there’s a little bit of magic left in the world; a little mysticism and mystery.

According to Yahoo answers, the best way to find a muse that’s been misplaced is through gentle coaxing. “Lure her out…coax her with pleasurable reading with enthralling words and descriptions…open up her flow of creative juices…explore…read…watch movies…eat food…all with the idea of getting your inspiration back on the backburner of your mind…when she’s ready, and with some prodding, she’ll come out,” instructs Yellowspotlight89.

Sounds like my weekend’s all planned.

I’m going to keep my eye out, and see if I can’t just catch a glimpse of my own muse. Maybe there are some hints I just keep missing. Some clues scattered about, obscured by my sink full of dishes and my feloniously dusty floors. I’ve been grousing for a couple weeks now on the need for solitude and quiet time, and maybe my own muse has been driven into hiding, fearful of viral infections and knife fights with unassuming Trader Joe salads.

Maybe if I’m very, very quiet…I’ll get a little glimpse. All I need is just the merest shadow of proof – the briefest inspiration.
I’m going to keep my eyes peeled. I’ll let you know if there are any sightings.

In the meantime, check out the glorious, glorious Xanadu…don’t you wish we still had skating rinks?

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