Keeping Myself A-Mused


The Muse demands a sacrifice.

The Muse demands a sacrifice.

By Alexa Day

My Muse has been on a roll lately. Projects are in motion, notes are flowing, and I actually submitted something a few days ago. I couldn’t be more pleased with the guy.

By the time you read this, I will be off giving him a reward: our very first Bloody Mary and some people-watching at a popular bar. I’m already a little excited about it. It’ll take some of the time I should be investing in my tax return, but it’s important. Unfortunately, I had to discover the hard way that creative playtime is more important than creative work time.

After Illicit Impulse came out a little over a year ago, my life descended into chaos, and not in a sexy way. Let’s just say shelter was the only thing I was certain of, and that’s because my landlady is a friend. During this time, while I was trying to get my book the visibility it loves so much, I spread myself pretty thin, and long story short, my Muse got the shaft (and not in a sexy way, heyo!). I knew I had to be working, but I couldn’t scrape together enough creative spark to get anything useful on the page.

When 2014 arrived, I had done little to deserve my Muse’s attention. I needed him, but all I could get from him was eye-rolling and some worn-out sounding prose.

Then came Metallica.

I was in my car, trying to cram 45 minutes worth of food into a 30-minute lunch interval when the Muse started to rock out to a Metallica four-play. When the Muse is rocking, I see little flickery snippets of story, and he was showing me some good stuff that afternoon in the parking lot. Then the music was over, and he was back to eye-rolling.

I asked what he needed. Yeah, passersby could see me. Those people are used to seeing me talk to myself, I hope.

The Muse wanted a beer. That night.

I started to make an excuse and got more eye-rolling. Okay. That night it was.

So I took the Muse to a bar, and I got him a beer and myself a burger. Before long I was hearing some absolutely filthy dialogue. The Muse loves his India Pale Ale, and I put that dialogue to work as soon as I got home. Everybody won.

Now I know the Muse needs to play from time to time. I also know I can’t keep drinking like this. Not only is it a horrible cliche, it’s expensive and time-consuming, and the work suffers when I’m hung over.

Just the thought of this is enough to overstimulate my Muse.

Just the thought of this is enough to overstimulate my Muse.

Instead, I’ve broken the creative playtime options down into a few different categories. If I need to get back in touch with my senses, I might go for a long drive, windows down and music turned up, bound for the mountains or the beach. I’ll try a new recipe with new ingredients. I’ll photograph the flowers emerging throughout the neighborhood.

If I need to be around people, I’ll arrange for a girls’ night or hit happy hour or drag my introverted self to a party. And for the more … illicit stuff, there’s always the neighborhood strip club. Alas, we only have one male revue here in this one-horse town, but I’m committed to keeping it in business.

If I need a quick fix, I’ll pull out the crayons or head down to the museum or settle in with someone else’s poetry. Or I’ll read outside my chosen genre. Reading James Dickey’s Deliverance has been pure Muse candy; I could read his description of the Southern road trip (before the unpleasantness) every night like a prayer.

After playtime is over, I’m ready to get back under the keyboard and really have some fun. It’s so refreshing to write like the craft is new, without pressure, without concern for the business, with freedom and joy. And I get more done, too. Everyone wins, right?

So it’s best for everyone involved if I have that Bloody Mary. Now I just have to figure out how to make it and all those singles from the strip club tax deductible.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll get those creative juices (and the Bloody Mary mix) flowing.

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7 Comments

  • Madeline Iva
    April 13, 2014 at 8:15 am

    What I like, Alexa, is how you just go for it. You show up for your muse on a regular basis and your muse will show up for you.

    • Alexa Day
      April 13, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Yeah, I had to give him a big Muse hug the other day and say I was sorry for letting him sit there all by himself for so long. I’m glad he’s the forgiving type. Now that he has permission to really play, I’m curious to see what he turns up with. Curious and maybe a little scared. But mostly curious. 😉

  • Barbara Mikula
    April 13, 2014 at 10:30 am

    We all have our little dips in creativity. I like the music up loud myself – some good jazz, opera sometimes or just good old rock n roll. Since I don’t ever do an outline, I never know where the story is actually going to go. The problem with that method is that sometimes near the middle I get into a slump and don’t know what to do with my story line. How do I get my people out of this one? Like in Violette’s Vibrato, my heroine was in the sights of some members of the Russian Mob. How the heck do you get rid of those dudes? I came up with a good solution eventually. I usually wake up in a day or two with an idea. In the meantime, I enjoy letting someone else’s words into my head to give it a break! It could be other erotic romance or sometimes just to “clear my pallet” I’ll read a mystery or a sweet romance. – Skye Michaels

    • Alexa Day
      April 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Tough to go wrong with loud music, isn’t it? Especially since it’s so easy to come by in our Internet age. Spotify helped me out of a real jam just recently, and it paid off big time! But Metallica has my Muse’s heart. At some point, I’ll have to invest in an album or three to keep him happy. 🙂

  • Elizabeth Shore
    April 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    It’s a real nuisance when my Muse goes on holiday and I wanna get down to business, but it’s best to show patience and understanding. Once the batteries are recharged, the energy starts flowing. So Alexa, if your Muse needs a bloody mary, by all means belly up to the bar!

    Great post. 🙂

    • Alexa Day
      April 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      That’s what I say, too — Muse gets what Muse wants! I just hope my liver can keep up. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Kel
    April 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Heh. Timely.

    Muses are important. So important that I named my new-this-year motorcycle (yes, I name them) Terpsichore… which tells you something about me, something about it, and something about my relationship with both both motorcycles and muses.

    Dance on, happy authors. Dance on.

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