The union of the Muse and the Mess

I’ve been in my writing group for seven years. They are my first line readers. I really want their frank critiques to help my manuscript grow into its best possibility. I can’t imagine writing without their feedback. In our last writer’s meeting, we pondered the question, “Who writes?” When we sit down at the computer, who is it that comes forward to create the dialogue, the scenes, the story, the creative wealth?

After considering what happens when I write, I arrived at this simple conclusion in answer to “Who writes?” – All of me. Not just the transcendent witness of my life, outside of me, up there, out of body, some perfect spirit self, total creative muse, or divine guidance. That feels horribly disconnected. Without my human messy self – my unwanted anger, pain, despair and struggle – none of my writing would touch the hearts or souls of my readers. It would be void and sterile, written ‘about’ rather than written to intimately experience.

Integrating my messy self with my muse, my passion, my divine guidance – now that is where the spark of creativity ignites. In that integration, the compost of the stuff of life is brought to perfected alchemy. Sentences shine, plot is engaging, characters have sensory depth and they grow from their conflict and tension. This can only be created from the union of the mess and the muse.

We can all turn the dross of our life experience into gold. As writers, this is much like the process of how characters achieve their goals through their transformational arc within a story. Characters don’t start out perfect, without flaws. There would be no story there. Characters, as well as writers, start with struggles, pain, and obstacles to what they desire. If that is not part of the equation, there’s not much point in telling the story now is there?

The muse without the compost of the mess is barren.

If you write (and we all do in some form or another), how would you answer the question, “Who writes?”

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