Throughout my life I have been an artist, a musician, and now a writer. Creativity runs thick in my blood. As a result, I have spent (perhaps wasted) a lot of time seeking the muse. She was such an elusive, fleeting, little tart. I always felt like I was three steps behind her, that I didn’t have what it took to catch up and drain her of the inspiration I desperately needed. I was a vampire, thirsty for that creative rich blood, and I was dehydrating.
Then I learned a valuable lesson about her. She was there, within my grasp, the whole time. My muse, she’s a stalker. The whole time I was looking for her, she was standing right behind me, waiting for me to turn around so she could smack me and say, ‘Here I am, stupid, now sit your butt down and write.’ When I learned, better yet, when I accepted, how devious my muse truly is, I stopped looking for her. I simply started waiting for those subtle, sucker punches and her sultry, little voice seductively whispering the words ‘Here I am’ into my ear.
Now, without trying, I see her everywhere; standing on street corners, in the seat behind me, across the room at a restaurant, in the news, on the radio, and even on the vehicle in front of mine. No matter where I am, she’s there. She doesn’t just kick me in the gut me to get my attention either, sometimes she does all she can to completely frazzle my nerves. Her approach is more like a haunting. Ever wake up from a sound sleep in the middle of the night, open your eyes, and then crawl out of your skin because you are certain there was a face leaning over the bed and staring at you? Yeah, my muse can be a lot like.
An example? Thanks for asking.
A couple of weeks ago I was driving along, happy and content, not even thinking about writing. Then I rolled to a smooth stop at a red light, right behind a dark blue S.U.V. with its rear window decorated. The window was adorned with a memorial. Not uncommon but, for some reason, this one caught my attention.
In Memory of
Gone but NEVER forgotten.
Gone but NEVER forgotten.
It was a little unsettling to see my first name on a memorial like that. Not that I have an unusual name, it was the principle of the matter. However, what really rattled my cage was the apparent date of death, which happens to be the exact date of my birth. Now, regardless of your beliefs, that’s enough to jolt even the most steadfast fortitude. I told you, my muse is not a nice person, and she had just throat punched me. When I was able to breathe again I realized that, once more, reality had just become stranger than fiction. A story was already writing itself about a guy who develops an unhealthy obsession after seeing such a heart-stopping tribute.
I write thriller, suspense, and horror. So it would seem that this life moment was tailored to my style. Who knows me better than my muse, right? The truth is, it’s suitable for many genres. A romance author could have seen the same memorial and went a completely different direction than I’ve gone. That’s the beauty of inspiration, the same moment can move twenty different people in twenty different ways.
Pardon my language for a moment, because it’s time for me to share a little secret. Writer’s block is bullshit, it’s an excuse. There, I said it. How many of you hate me now? Here’s another one: The muse is a farce, a ghost, she’s more fictional than your novel. Personally, I love the term ‘muse’, regardless of how mythical it is. But, ‘muse’ is a word used by artists to describe something they are looking for, that they hope will provide them with inspiration.
Stop looking! Every moment of every day, regardless of your genre, you are surrounded by writing material. You simply have to be willing to open your mind (not your eyes) and take notice. Train your brain. Know your genre and then start looking at the world differently. Look at everyday things and ask yourself, how could I use that in my writing? Soon, you’ll find inspiration comes naturally, and you too can call your muse a stalker.
When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at JasonPHenry.com.