Where Do You Find Your Muse?

mountains with midst

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Take a moment and consider what things we spend money on over and over again. And not the daily necessities. The things we don’t need, but are convinced we should spend that five, ten, or 15 dollars (or more) on over and over again.

The books. The movies. The games. The poster of that one movie you can’t actually remember seeing but it has a special place in your heart (and now also the back of your closet).

Maybe these items inspire you. They add to your creativity like a muse come to whisper the sweet nothings of ideas into your ear. Maybe instead it’s a reminder that things we love do exist and we can create something that aspires to that (or even surpasses it).

Perhaps it’s the 15 copies of American Gods, or yet another edition (this one has editor’s footnotes, I swear!) of Pride and Prejudice. Either way, these have some kind of significance to you, to who you are as a creator, to who you identify with as a person.

Love that dog eared paperback (even though your grandma told you that was book abuse – and you know she was right!), enjoy another viewing of your favorite movie (this time on blue ray), and lose yourself into another round of that video game. A creator somewhere was hit by a muse, and will appreciate you as the customer – but you can appreciate it so much more knowing where your own creativity was birthed.

On that note, I’m off to go make a cup of something hot and dive into a good story – maybe the muse will strike hard and fast (and so will the incoming snow) and I’ll find myself creating something of my own.

Not Even My Great Aunt Brunhilde

selective photograph of a wall with grafitti

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I never could see any of the hidden pictures in the Magic Eye posters. Not a single one. And not for lack of trying. I tried every trick they tell you, plus some I made up on my own. Squinting? Check. Holding it to my nose and moving it away and back again? Check. Laying upside down while wearing a scarf for an eye patch? Check.

I think there is a little bit of belief that goes into seeing something your brain tells you is not there. Throw in a touch of perspective in with that belief? Now you’re cooking with gas.

I guess what I mean here is that if you believe the dolphins are going to be visible if you just look long enough, well then eventually you are going to see dolphins appear as if by magic. If you don’t believe – and I didn’t, not really – then there’s a very slim chance you’re going to see any dolphins.

What prompts the thought of Magic Eyes and perspective on this fine Sunday evening?

Perspective. Ours. That of those around us. All perspective and the variety of thoughts different perspectives can lead to.

Specifically the perspectives and thoughts of what different people think of things we create. Let’s say you write a story about a crazy old woman (maybe she lived in a shoe … maybe she didn’t). And maybe she has a particularly peculiar character quirk. Maybe she orders her water at a restaurant in a coffee mug. If the waiter brings water in a glass she sends it back every time. Now let’s say your Great Aunt Brunhilde also orders her water in coffee mugs. Suddenly G.A. Brunhilde sees similarities in this character in other ways. Even though there’s absolutely nothing other than this one quirk that they have in common.

What do you do? The crazy old woman is a great character, she’s spunky, cantankerous, and obstinate, but Auntie Brunhilde can’t separate her own sweet disposition from this character. Her thoughts have taken her in a wild direction.

Maybe you’re tempted to hide the crazy old bat away, never to be seen again in any other story. But darn it, she’s a great character. And she deserves to solve mysteries the likes that would make Miss Marple perk up to hear about.

We have to consider, as creatives, that we may type words that will lead the people in our lives to believe we are talking about them. Sometimes we can have an easy conversation that will help them see that though there are similarities (I mean, how many people insist on restaurant water in a mug, after all?), in reality it’s a fictional character. Sometimes, however, that won’t work. No matter how many times you try Aunt Brunhilde just sees herself in that story.

When that happens?

Please shrug. Write the best character you can. And remember your disclaimer at the beginning of your tale … “Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. And any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”

(There was no harming to any Great Auntie Brunhilde’s in the making of this week’s blog post.)

When Others Just Get Us

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Conversations sometimes lead to the most interesting detours.

I was talking with my son, also a writer, this evening. He is still in high school and navigating his own journey with the W’s of writing. The what and the why, and who he wants to really be after all is said and done. How he wants to be portrayed in the world after he writes his first ideas.

And so …

He was asking me about what my blog is about. How I plan things out and how often I write.

I felt a little shy telling him. It was strange, this young man who came from me, who trusts me and looks up to me. I felt nerves grasping from deep within me as I answered these questions.

With each answer he was more encouraging. He pulled more out of me. Was more intrigued. More amazed. And with each positive feedback he gave I found myself more excited and wanting to share more.

Such awesome insight from a young man. He had somehow figured out what I needed before I did. And sometimes all it takes is encouragement from someone we love to remind us that we’re on the right path.



When Optimism is Just Out of Reach

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Being positive is kind of what I do. It’s a huge part of how I identify myself and how I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I joke that I’m a realist, or just a positive pessimist. In reality? I’m a 100% bonafide optimist.

Just. Well. Some days the optimist in me takes the day off. It pulls the covers over its head and says nuh-uh, not today.

Usually it’s because I find myself overwhelmed. Too much bad news. Too many people asking for more than I can give. Too many times I avoid saying no because I don’t want to let anyone down. I stop my routine of self-care.

It’s easy to forget to care for ourselves when we worry that it will be seen as selfish. We do the bare minimum (eat, sleep, clean, repeat). We ignore the things that feed our soul. We stop all things that we see as “extra” and instead replace those with priorities of those we see as our responsibility.

Not that this isn’t important. I know that for me my loved ones are part of what feeds my soul. And there’s the rub. How to balance all the parts of our soul?

I talked awhile back about Navigating the Whelms – and I have to accept that I’ve lost my perch on that precarious balance between overwhelmed and underwhelmed. Too many moving parts and not enough breathing room.

So when you feel overwhelmed know:

  • You can say no (and yes, even to family and friends). Try this: “No I can’t go to such and such event. I have a full plate and would love to get back in touch when things ease up. I hope you understand.”
  • It’s okay that you didn’t accomplish every goal on your to-do list today (100 items is unrealistic and set you up for failure to begin with).
  • Being underwhelmed does lead to feeling overwhelmed. It shows it’s face often in the form of being bored or unable to get started. So today was a bust? Tomorrow is another chance to try again.

Not every day is a huge success. And sometimes it’s even a failure. Acknowledge this and then move on.

Let your inner optimist take the day off, they deserve it too.

After all. Tomorrow is a brand new day.

(And yes, my inner optimist just couldn’t help herself, she talked me back into a positive head space after all.)