I didn't used to understand when authors would talk about their muse as if it were a secondary person. About how their muse gave them ideas, presented them with a new character, stepped in and killed off a character unexpectedly, etc. I figure, if you're the person writing the story, you're the one creating the characters and doing the killing. There's no second person there. There's no attractive woman, maybe with a harp and long flowing red curls, who whispers new ideas in your ear when you're thinking of someone else.
As you can see, I had a very Hollywood-version idea of a muse.
And then I wrote three and a half books, and somewhere along the way, I began to understand it. I felt this other force at times, one that had my fingers flying over the keyboard, typing eloquent passages, realistic dialog, and turning the story in an unexpected direction, catching me completely off guard. I had moments of brilliance while brushing my teeth reading someone else's novel, while talking with friends about completely unrelated ideas, while driving. I wasn't consciously attempting to create story ideas. I wasn't looking to build upon my character's personality. The idea was simply there.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped mocking authors (to Cody and on this blog) who refer to this secondary influence in their work, their muse. Somewhere along the way, I attracted my own muse. She formed in harmony with my work, and I don't think I could continue to write without her.
My sister sent me a TED video today of Elizabeth Gilbert talking about that other force that rides along with an author (or artist). It got me thinking about my own relationship with my muse, and my intense gratitude for those ole! moments of my own.
Elizabeth Gilbert says it far better than I ever could:
I intensely love the story of the poet who experienced poems as a force of nature that she had to catch before it passed her by. How incredible!