by Drew Daywalt
My muse can be a capricious, nasty little thing. A strangely seductive homunculus, she will appear one day for no reason at all, like a rush of air. She’ll fill my head with a zoo-full of creative thoughts, sometimes stay for another day or two so that I can express the idea into the acorn of a manuscript or an outline, and then disappear before I wake the next morning without so much as a note on my pillow.
It’s okay that she does this, because like all forms of inspiration, she’s fleeting. And once the inspiration is gone, then begins the hard work of building, letter by letter, sentence by sentence, a creative construct that, when done, hopefully recreates the same rush of excitement that I originally felt at the moment of inspiration.
It’s a hard dragon to chase, this moment of inspiration. I’ve given up to the fact that I can’t control it any more than I can control the wind. It comes, it breezes through, and it’s gone again. To continue the metaphor, the only thing I can do is put myself in a place where I know the wind blows.
That’s why, years ago, I created a sort of man-cave-writing room, almost Victorian in it’s styling, but with a fantasy twist, because I love fantasy and horror and really any form of escapist delights. I blame this love on Friday night monster movies from my childhood and all those Dr. Seuss and Sendak and Dahl books I read as a kid. Those other worlds were always so much more interesting than mine. I wanted to be a world builder.
And this writer’s cave has all manner of masks, talismans, tokens and souvenirs from my travels. I love travel. Travel inspires me, and little reminders of travel inspire me just as much. These things I would collect were items that I’d picked up around the world that inspired me at the moment I found them – a goddess idol in Bolivia, a handmade wooden toy from Tuscany, a tribal mask from the Pacific Islands, even a beer stein from Cologne. Worldly trophies and artifacts, representing other peoples’ moments of creative inspiration. I would find these things in some market or stall in some faraway land, I’d pick them up and hold them, and I’d feel the inspiration from the creator, and I’d take it home. I’d store that inspiration in this room, this writer’s cave. As years went by, I even began adding fascinating props and creatures from my films to this bizarre menagerie. I’d fill the room with amazing, strange little curios that would give me the same rush that I felt when I’d first encountered them.
And more often than not, sitting in my cave, waiting for the muse to strike, staring at these strange little items, I would feel the rush of an idea. Like a small breeze. A wind through my mind.
And I would close my eyes and know that my muse had arrived.