January 24, 2008
A Muse Meant
Please welcome a guest blogger: L. L. Barkat. She is the author of the upcoming InterVarsity Press book Stone Crossings. I asked her to write a blog in response to Dave Zimmerman's "The Sweet Spot." Dave blogged about the long process of editing and then the lovely moment at the end of the road when he was being reminded why he wanted to publish the book in the first place. So here are Barkat's thoughts about what inspires authors. --Cindy Bunch
I remember studying the poets of long ago. For them, a "muse" meant something along the lines of imaginary blonde-haired women who stirred their passions, so they could face impossible tasks like stacking beauty into rhyme and meter. These ethereal blondes seemed to send just the right instructions at just the right time. I’m not sure how they did it. A letter in the poet’s mailbox. Dreams. Or maybe leading their charges, by invisible hand, to the perfect daffodil field on the perfect blue-sky day.
Such muses present challenges to writers who prefer brunettes, who forget to check their mail on a regular basis, and who opt to eat nachos on the couch instead of taking walks. No matter. The Modern Muse Preparatory School is onto this.
At the MMPS (not to be confused with “mumps”), modern writers find exactly who they need to get through the writing process, from soup to nuts. Take me, for instance. Last year, a friend asked if I could tell her about my muse. Up ‘til then, I didn’t even know that the MMPS had assigned me a muse. As it turned out, I was apparently an extra-needy case. Because when I searched through my writing closet, I discovered I had multiple muses—which is sometimes, but not always, as bothersome as having mumps.
Anyway, I told my friend that my muse is the guy who has just now yawned in the middle of a sermon, the young woman who cannot face her abuser, the couple who thinks they should exit their crumbling marriage. I didn’t mention it at the time, but I have other muses too: people who like the clowns that only come out at half-time, anyone who needs an eave to duck under in the rain, maybe even the person who’s forgotten to listen to his dreams.
As it turns out, I also have a blonde-haired muse who sends me mail—of the e-sort—that I check on a regular basis. Being an editor, she has given her life to help writers like me get off the couch and fed me proverbial soup when I was feeling nuts. I’m still trying to decide if this gives her rights to my nachos. But I may just keep them for my personal amusement.
Visit L. L.Barkat's blog Seedlings in Stone.