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Monday, April 8, 2013

Stalking the Muse

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It should. My muse is evading me and I’m beginning to wonder if it has assumed an alias and a disguise and maybe even moved away. Who knows. Lucky for me, I have no compunction against stalking. It’s a skill I developed, like most females, in junior high. Most females get over it. I, however, am more frugal and maintain that no skill is a bad skill.

I haven’t had to stalk any one for more than two decades now but I try to keep in practice. Never know when a good stalking is in order. Sadly, there are few opportunities to put it into use these days. Real stalking is technically harassment and often leads to charges being pressed. Something like that would be bad.

I’ve decided to put my stalking skills to good use once more. I’ve begun focusing on a most elusive quarry: my muse.

I’ve read all sorts of blogs and articles loaded with advice on where to find inspiration. However, nobody does work for no good reason. It’s nice to find inspiration but it is essential to know why we seek it in the first place.

What drives us to look for the muse? What makes a writer sit down and write? We’ve read tales of writers who have burning voices inside them, clamoring to be heard. People who have experienced amazing things and have a burning need to share it with the world. So many inspirational and uplifting reasons. Many of us hope to relate to those admirable writers and assume their reasons for writing are similar to our own.

Not me. I’ll admit it. My driving forces are more practical and much less professional but nonetheless effective:

1)     Envy. That’s right. Envy of the success of others is a wonderful source of inspiration for writers. Back when I started and I was still humbled and amazed that I could even be considered worthy of publication, I used to Google myself as a way to congratulate myself on the work I’ve done. That’s not enough anymore. Now, I Google other writers. I compare how many more pages of Google hits they have. I see which markets have accepted them and I push myself to produce work worthy of being accepted there as well. Envy helps me to focus on getting my own work out on submission. You can’t succeed if you don’t try. Jealousy makes you try harder.
2)   Praise. Hunger for praise is another excellent driving force. I’m a mom and a pharmacist. Praise doesn’t go too far in either job. Good job on the laundry, mom. I love the way you vacuumed the living room. Or: Way to go counting those pills, miss. Thanks for billing my insurance. See how limp that is? Who can thrive on that drivel? My German Shepherd gets more praise than I do (and cookies. She gets cookies.) I’m a writer. I need affirmation. It’s what pushes me to enter contests. I have over a dozen entries out at the moment, with at least a dozen more planned. Will I win them all? Heck, no. I’m not delusional. But those contest judges give feedback and more often than not, it’s positive. When a judge comments “lol” on my manuscript, I get shivers. They are just feeding my addiction and my need to be loved. God bless them all.

3)     Bills. Boy, do I got ‘em. Mortgage, car, a crazy cable bill thanks to my DVR and my loyalty to HBO’s True Blood and Game of Thrones. I tried getting rid of the things that don’t seem as important but the husband says phone and sewer and electric are things we absolutely have to keep. Likewise, my children insist on food and clothing. Whatever. Since the bills don’t want to go away, I must keep writing. Someday I’ll actually earn enough to pay a bill with it. As long as there is hope, there is reason to persevere.

4)     Conceit. Yep, I said it. Every writer feels it. It is what makes us sit down and write: the unwavering belief that we can tell it better than anyone else. If we set out to write under the conviction that we sucked, we wouldn’t waste our time. Our belief in ourselves drives us to go out and face new challenges and take on new quests. Writers just tend to be stuck-up about it.

5)     Opportunity to vent. Self-explanatory. I’m a speculative fiction writer. This reason also includes the area of cheap therapy. I once had a poem accepted that I wrote about a panic attack I had the day before. Thank you, day job, for making me a nervous wreck and for giving me another Google hit. And thank you, wonderful world of retail, for inspiring me to be a better writer of horror. My customers have no idea what I day-dream about when I’m ringing out their toothpaste. Mu-hahahahaha.

The list could probably go on but, honestly, my husband will kill me if he knew my reasons for writing were so petty. He thinks I derive a deep sense of personal satisfaction by expressive my innate creativity. What a loveable goofball. I suppose as long as he doesn’t have to post bail, he’ll be okay with me stalking my muse. Worst case, I use it as a human shield when the critics come after me.

Seek out your own reasons to be inspired and may your muse go along with you willingly. Stalking can be such an extreme measure.

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who occasionally does track down her muse. Visit Ash's blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). Book Two "Blood Rush" will be released May 14, 2013. Also, her urban fantasy novella "Stranger at the Hell Gate (The Wild Rose Press) is available on Amazon.

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