A big Pink Heart Welcome back to Kimberly Lang, asking us on this Writer's Wednesday, "Do you believe in the Muse?"
Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t believe in the Muse. Inspiration and creativity are such slippery ideas, I understand why some people want to believe there’s an external and uncontrollable something that can be blamed when this writing gig isn’t as easy as we thought it would be.
At the same time, I don’t like to think that creativity and ability is at the whim of some elusive, temperamental, fairy-like creature. I’m too much of a control freak for that. I also don’t have the luxury of time – time spent waiting for my Muse to come back from her trip to Jamaica just so I can finish this book, that is.
In grad school, I did some research on where creativity comes from and how it’s understood. (Okay, so I read the conclusions of people who are a lot smarter than I am and were willing to actually do the research and draw the models. It still counts.)
There is a certain irony in the literature – all these researchers are trying to create models of how creativity emerges, to find a logical pattern to how creative types think. Isn’t logic antithetical to creativity? And yet, no matter how many conclusions they draw, no matter how nifty the models look on paper, or how nicely they lay out the creative steps, none of the researchers were able to define why one person’s thinking would be “creative” while someone else’s would be “analytical.” Why is it that when presented with the same problem and background, some get creative and others don’t? They call it “Birth of an idea, “ “Ideation,” “Conception,” or even “Vision.” At some point, there’s a leap – and creative types make that leap when analytical types don’t. And they can’t explain why.
It’s almost like having scientific papers existing solely to prove the woo-woo exists. With no other explanation emerging, I can understand why it’s easier to invoke the Muse. It makes as much sense as anything else.
(Should you be interested in reading a synopsis of the research, you can find one here: http://www.directedcreativity.com/pages/WPModels.html)
Several of the models argued creativity was part of the subconscious, and I liked that idea. Instead of a Muse, the ideas were coming from inside me – even if I didn’t fully understand where or how. While several researchers claimed that the subconscious nature of creativity meant it was outside of the thinker’s control, I like D.N. Perkins’ argument instead. He agrees that subconscious mental processes are behind all thinking, but argues that just because we cannot fully describe those thought processes, it does not mean we’re not in control of them. His example: we cannot begin to describe all of the subconscious mental processes engaged in the simple act of picking up a coffee cup, but we are certainly in control of the overall act.
I kinda like that. I may not know how or why it works, but I’m in charge of it. It all comes from me. Even if there is a Muse involved in there somehow, I’m not totally subject to her whims. I’m ultimately in control. If I’m stuck, I don’t have to wait for the Muse to save me – everything I need is in my subconscious; I just need to get those ideas to the forefront.
Of course, the down-side is there’s nothing to blame when the writing isn’t happening. That’s still me, too.
Sigh. We creative types are a little nutty sometimes. But that’s a whole different topic…
So, do you believe in the Muse?
Help from the Muse or not, Kimberly is celebrating the release of two books this month! Her first US release The Secret Mistress Arrangement from Harlequin Presents and her second UK release, The Millionaire’s Misbehaving Mistress from Mills and Boon Modern Heat! Squee! You can keep up with Kim at her website at www.booksbykimberly.com!