Finding Muses

By Melanie Barnes


By hobby and profession, I am a writer. I've written stories for as long as I can remember, from the journeys of Hungry the Hampster in pre-K to birthday presents for my cousins (I think Jessica the Princess counts as a trilogy?) throughout middle school to my current job today, a fashion copywriter for a prominent designer. Whenever I consider things I'm good at, writing is always my go-to "thing." But damn, why is it so complicated? For me, it's the fickleness of muses.

People always tell me, "Oh, I could never be a writer!" And I want to tell them that they're right. It's a profession filled with many nuances, high attention to detail and, if we're lucky, quick wit. But the truth is, anyone can truly be a writer. Because all it really takes is the urge to create a story and the willingness to follow where the words take you. These are muses. Listen to your muses.

I've been obsessed with the idea of muses since hearing a Ted talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love - start around minute 9:33). Obviously it's amazing in its entirety, but the part that stuck with me is her notion that sometimes, writing can feel downright paranormal. It's a collaboration between you and your muse, an idea or story that wants to come to fruition through you -- and if you miss it, it's gone.

Some days I feel abandoned by my muses. The words and ideas have escaped, and I spend hours staring wordlessly at the page (I still prefer pen to paper in most instances), struggling. Sure, I can throw words on the page and I'm sure it sounds fine (this is where a good editor is useful), but a WRITER will not be satisfied until her thoughts are fully expressed and can stand on their own.

But that moment when the muse is back, when genius strikes -- that's why we write.