The muse is a fickle, subversive partner. Seasoned writers will tell you that chasing her around your head is a lifelong addiction. Catching up to her is a ticklish dance, a kind of special romancing that demands subtly and, sometimes, trickery.
She comes and goes, her own way, in her own time. She’s always in control of the relationship. But without her, your art goes up in smoke. With the muse, you are always the junior partner.
Tickling the muse has its tricks, though. They aren’t written down anywhere. They aren’t the same for all writers. Over the years, I’ve stumbled on a few of them, mostly by chance. Some of my fellow writers have shared their muse-romancing secrets.
Here are a few tickle-tricks that seem to work.
The muse doesn’t like crowds. She’s shy. For this writer, she’s just not a party animal in any way. Go to a party, lose the muse. In fact, she doesn’t really like any company at all. It’s a one-on-one thing for my muse. Three is a crowd and she just vanishes. More than three and she’s likely to pout for a while. It’s always got to be her way, and her way is that she wants center stage, all alone.
The muse likes quiet. Too much noise gives the muse a migraine. If there’s clatter and chatter, she goes back to her cave and waits for the world to calm down. She doesn’t mind music, though. In fact, she likes it. She seems OK with the sounds of nature or things that go bump from far, far away. But, up close, keep things quiet. She wants to be heard. Since she doesn’t like parties, you can imagine how she reacts to voices.
The muse whispers, never shouts. And this is why she doesn’t do noise. She always whispers. Her voice is soft and alluring, most of the time. Attention-seeking behavior is not in her genes. Actually, she’s passive-aggressive. She knows how to grab all of a writer but she does it with subtlety. If you can’t hear the whisper you’ll miss the message.
The muse is a shape-shifter. The muse is likely to pop-up anywhere, any time, and in any form she chooses. She has many faces. You usually won’t know she’s on your shoulder if you go looking for her. She comes first with a bare whisper. You need to follow that soft voice to find her. Then, when you finally see her, she’s always changing her looks. It’s best to not even worry about her appearance. Just listen.
The muse will make you talk to yourself. When she has your attention, the muse can get really pushy. She wants to take over, flood your head with her message, push your possibilities. The muse, for all her shyness, can be powerful and often overwhelming. She has mystical powers that take you off in different, usually unexpected, directions. She will make you talk to yourself, out loud. She loves to surprise you.
The muse lives in the back of your head. That’s right. She’s always there, way in the back of your head, somewhere you cannot scratch. You can’t reach her most of the time, but she’s still there, hiding and waiting for the perfect moment. Sometimes she’ll pop out for a peek in your dreams. Other times she’ll push you from behind with a fresh thought or a compelling mind-picture. That’s how you know she’s back there, hanging out for her own time and place. You can’t grab her and drag her into the open. She is much stronger than you. You’d better learn how to tickle and tease her, just the way she likes to romance you. It’s an endless dance and you’re never in the lead.
The muse wants your complete attention. She tolerates no competition, no interference, no contention. When she wants you, she wants all of you. If you can’t give her all the props she needs, she’ll fly back to that secret place in your head and leave you holding the bag. That’s no fun at all. When she comes knocking, drop everything and answer the door.
I’m guessing there are many more muse-tickling rules. There might even be a secret society dedicated to muse tickling. If so, I haven’t been invited. Like my fellow writers, I’ve stumbled along the path of muse-tickling until I found a few tricks that worked.
If you want to share your musings about the muse, you know where to put them.