• Sonya Simpson

Musings about muses

I recently watched a wonderful Ted talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on the influence of muses and the idea that our inspiration could be due to divine connection. The talk rang so true for me that I watched it with tears in my eyes. I stopped writing a couple of years ago after being told that I was wasting my time (amongst other things). The comment came from someone close to me whom I love and respect, and from that moment the writing just didn’t happen.

Writing had always done just that, ‘happened’. It wasn’t something that I did or chose, instead it was a thing that came upon me all of a sudden, frequently, words appearing in my head and having to be recorded quickly before they were gone again. If I was able to record them they stayed imprinted on my brain, repeating at seemingly unrelated moments with strong force. This was true for poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Occasionally an image or a tune would be thrust into my mind and I would attempt to record it at haste, which was always more difficult due to my lack of skill in the areas of visual art and music.

I’ve always felt that the creativity came from somewhere other than my concious self and that I was just supposed to record the moments. For what reason I was never sure but my life has always been littered with scraps of paper scattered with verse, books full of part written stories, snippets of prose and strong, powerful paragraphs. Some of this writing came from my own experience but much of it came from a place unknown. Smart phones with their added recording devices made my life easier as I was able to quickly record words, hummed tunes, lyrics and ideas as they flowed to mind. My existence was full of creativity. The act of writing made me feel refreshed and happy, I’d wake in the morning and know life was simply wonderful. Sometimes it took a while to remember that this feeling of wellbeing had come from something as simple as creative output.

As I put this to text I realize that since I stopped writing the messages that were once imprinted with a seeming permanence have become shadowy. I find it hard to recall them and realize that they haven’t repeated themselves for a long time. It dawns on me that since I closed my mind to this creativity that it simply hasn’t visited me again. Like a guest who has worn out their welcome and slipped away feeling hurt but without saying a word.

Are we indeed vessels for Daimons, muses, divine inspiration, genius? I certainly always felt like a vessel for the creativity that occurred. So have I closed my mind to it, or without practice have I simply lost the ability to easily access that area of my brain?

A friend who is an paid writer is unsure of all this. She earns a living with her writing, it is deliberate, a job and is pulled apart and then put back together differently depending on who wants to use her work. I see her point but still… there is something great about the opportunity to give creatives an out, or to see things as something greater than oneself.

I for one am feeling inspired again. Even if my genius is a bit of a novice still but I am left to ponder, is it an outside force that inspires us to write, sending creativity down to us? Or is it more our knowing self, burning away in the background unseen and then pouring something forth to us at a more conscious level, leaving our thinking selves surprised and elated. Either way; In my mind creativity is a touch from the divine, either the true self speaking outwardly or the muse producing inspiration within.

Greek muses for you to muse:

  1. Clio: History and guitar

  2. Euterpe: Musical instruments

  3. Thalia: Comedy, geometry, architectural science and agriculture

  4. Melpomene: Tragedy

  5. Terpsichore: Dance

  6. Erato: Love and Poetry

  7. Polyhymnia: Divine hymns, mimic art, geometry and grammar

  8. Ourania: Celestial objects and stars

  9. Calliope: The superior muse who protected heroic poems and rhetoric art

Examples of genius to muse:

Said Walter Isaacson on a biography about Steve jobs: Was Jobs smarter than everyone else? “No, not exceptionally,” Isaacson writes. “Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative steps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical.”

British Literary critic William Hazlitt: The definition of genius is that it acts unconsciously; and those who have produced immortal works, have done so without knowing how or why. The greatest power operates unseen.

Socrates: beautiful poems are not human, not even from human beings, but are divine and are from gods; that poets are nothing but representatives of the gods, possessed by whoever possesses them.

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