I have to watch how I talk around my husband - he's not a writer. He's an actuary. So when I say something like, "My character said she won't go there." he looks at me with raised eyebrow and starts humming the theme song from The Twilight Zone.
Now we all know I'm not really hearing an audible voice, but there is something that often directs our writing. That something is hard to define so we lovingly refer to it as The Muse.
In Greek mythology the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne were The Muses, each goddess overseeing a different subject of learning:
Calliope - epic poetry/song, Clio - history, Thalmia - comedy, Melpomene - tragedy, Terpsichore - choral dance, Erato - erotic (love) poetry/song, Euterpe - lyric poetry/song, Polyhymnia - sacred poetry/song, Urania - astrology.
I imagine most of us don't pray to the ancient Greek deities for inspiration, but what is that force that impels us to put pen or pencil to paper or fingertips to keyboard? Where do those ideas come from that find their way into stories, poems and memoirs?
Writing this post I find The Muse means different things to me. It is that little voice or gut instinct telling me my phrasing is just a bit off or a character has done something - out of character. It has nothing to do with knowing proper English or characterization.
Sometimes The Muse is pure inspiration. I listen to Andrea Bocelli and it's as if the notes enter my ears, tingle through my arms and come out as words. How many writings are based on pieces of artwork or other writings? How many poems and essays were inspired by nature?
After we've witnessed great tragedy or great joy, I believe it's The Muse that gathers our emotions and guides us in expressing them through our art.
If The Method and The Market are the foundations, the meat and potatoes of being a good writer and author, then The Muse is the dessert. We may not be able to explain why it's important or how it works, we just know it's good, it's sweet and it's essential.
These are the conference sessions I think most generally fit The Muse.
Headspace and Heartspace: Writing Is Not A Business, Publishing Is Not An Art
Crafting Compelling Mystery and Suspense
Common Threads: What Defines Women's Fiction
True Blue: Crafting Novels For All Ages
A Perfect World: Crafting A Cohesive Fantasy World
Children Are A Handful: The Unique Aspects Of Children's and Young Adult Markets
Panel: The Beauty Of Voice: Discovery Of Multi-Cultural Voices In Writing
Writing Your Non-Fiction Book: Converting Your Knowledge And Research Into The Written Word
While we need The Method and The Market to give structure and weight to our writing, we also need to nurture and feed our creative self. We need dessert after our meat and potatoes.