For as long as their have been story-tellers, there has been the idea of muses. Originally, – in Greek and Roman mythology – they are the nine goddesses (daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne) who presided over the arts and sciences; helping to inspire and create.
In the ‘good old days’ of Shakespeare, and later the Romantics; ‘muse’ was an everyday term for writers, poets and playwrights alike. It’s well known that crafty old Will would take a lover in town, leaving his doting old wife clueless in the country. (Personally, I hope she got her own back and slept with a hot gardener, but that’s another article!).
So we must assume that other Romantics, such as Byron, Keats, and other stuffy poets that Lit Professors love to chorus on about, must have had muses – or a girl who they sweet talked for a few months before moving on to the next innocent maiden (or servant boy).
However, in the age of selfies, Tinder and Instagram filters, how can we claim to have muses, when the whole social media aspect of our lives is to present a perfect, prettier version of ourselves?
We’ve all been there: you meet someone online and think they’re cute, then you meet them in person and they either look nothing like their picture – or they are a complete and utter bore! No inspiration found there, then.
As a writer myself, there was a time where I too considered muses to be a thing of myth, or at least only of writing history. But recently, my mind has been changed. Having said that, I would like to clarify a few things.
Muses have changed to suit the 21st century. They are no longer scantily-clad girls or gleaming muscle-men in torn white shirts. They are the everyday people. Our friends, our colleagues, the random faces we encounter everyday.
We absorb so much information through our phones, that sometimes we forget to stop and just look. Look at the dozens of faces that walk past us every single day. They are our muses. That character that appeared out of nowhere in your story? You walked past her on your way to work. That suspicious baddie on page 109 of your new novel? He’s that rude guy who served you in the supermarket.
Our brains are beautiful, creative, chaotic entities – but they don’t create people out of thin air. Just like our dreams, they pull features, words, accents, gait, height, weight, patterns – all from the passersby you womble past every single day.
So, fellow writers, wanna-be playwrights, and hopeless romantics that name yourself poets: go and find your muse! Maybe you already know them. Maybe you saw them in the cue today. And maybe they just walked past you whilst you had your head buried in a screen. Go find your muse. Go and be inspired.