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Guest Post – Jackie Gamber

25 May 2011 One Comment

Flirting With a Timid Muse
by Jackie Gamber
© 2011: All rights reserved.
Please contact the author for permission to re-post.

I have a personal fantasy that goes something like this: I’m sound asleep (or washing dishes, or mowing the lawn), completely minding my own business of snoring (or stacking plates, or watching the mower spit shredded grass), when suddenly, I’m seized. I sit straight up in bed (or at the sink, or in the yard) and am struck so hard with an idea that it literally rattles me. Makes my teeth ache. And I simply MUST rise, grab my laptop, flick on a nightlight, and write it all down. Now.

I’ve heard of writers who have exactly this experience, so I know they’re out there. The muse who walks right up to an artist, wrestles him out of a stupor, and bullies him into starting—or finishing—a project.

I’m not entirely sure who assigns which muse to which artist, or how they’re assigned, whether by personality, age, historical significance, creed, or what. I do know most artists talk about having one, and I’m certain I do. Most of the time.

Well, at least some of the time.

Because ideas come to me. Plenty of them. Really. But they rarely accompany a cold sweat, a fluttering heart, or an irresistible urge to scribble. No, my ideas, and my muse, generally come by way of a gentle tap on my shoulder, the clearing of a throat, and a soft, “Excuse me, but do you have a moment?”

Sometimes I have a moment, and things go swimmingly. Other times, I’m distracted by something else like laundry, driving, or cleaning up pet messes, and by the time I’m able to turn my focus to my muse, she’s retreated, and she’s smiling apologetically, and waving her hands, “No, no. It’s all right. Go on with what you’re doing, there.”

Grasping that she’s a hesitant, rather introverted soul (do all introverts like me get a matching muse?) I’ve worked very hard to eliminate as many distractions as possible. In fact, I often wake, tend to a few mundane physical chores—like showering, or possibly breakfast—and then sit down, hands poised on my keyboard, and wait. Specifically. Eyes to middle distance, head cocked like a robin.


She’s there, behind an invisible door, like a blushing virgin bride on her wedding night. I can hear her breathing.

I then resort to setting the stage, as any respectable partner-in-love, or art, should do. I coax her. I brew some tea. I play gentle music. Maybe I light a candle. On particularly reserved days I try chocolate and wine.

She does emerge, eventually. But wow, do I have to work it.

She’s very sweet, and I’m sure if she had a corporeal body in real life we’d be very good friends. But I’m thinking about sending her to Being Assertive Classes, or maybe talking her into reading Why Men Love Bitches, or perhaps asking Sherry Argov to write the book “Why Writers Love Bitchy Muses”.

My muse, bless her heart, needs a little attitude.

Am I the only one with this challenge? What are some of the things you do to flirt with inspiration?

Jackie Gamber is an award-winning freelance editor, as well as award-winning author of the fantasy novel Redheart, available now through Seventh Star Press and ebook at a special rate of $1.99!

Her short stories have appeared in numerous venues such as Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Shroud, and Necrotic Tissue, as well as anthologies, including Beauty and Dynamite by Apex Books and Old School by Belfire Press.

A veteran of the USAF, she is now, among other things, a rosarian, a professional BookTaster, and an avid believer in imagination. Visit Jackie and her BookTastings on the world wide web at www.jackiegamber.com.