What is Inspiration?

Chapter 3 of Pep Talks for Writers deals with inspiration and the idea of a “muse.” I’ve been carried away by inspiration in the past, largely during my fanfiction writing days, when the words just sort of come to me.

I had a dear friend (RIP, Janet) who had a form of aphantasia, I think. She couldn’t imagine characters in her own head, she had to have a physical image of the character. This is why she exclusively wrote fanfiction for television shows. Their faces were right there. She also didn’t understand what a writer means by a muse. She seemed to think that those writers were having hallucinations of an actual person telling them what to write. Several of us explained to her that, for most of us, “muse” is a metaphor for that “groove” you get into when the words just happen.

Not that every one of us have that experience. I’m sure that someone, somewhere, does experience a hallucination telling them what to write. But that’s never happened to me.

In Chapter 3, though, Faulkner tells us that most professional writers just show up and write. That sitting down at the keyboard, or with the pen and paper, or whatever, is inspiration enough.

And that is one thing I need to work on. The showing up part. Putting the words down and making them go by sheer force of my will, rather than by waiting for my “muse” to help me. I’m going to try to do that more often in the future.

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