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Above: Gilgamesh Tablet #11

We writers appreciate a good muse.

While researching to write a story set in ancient Mesopotamia, I came across a museum reproduction of a Sumerian tablet containing the oldest story that we have found to date. The epic of Gilgamesh, of course; and of course I bought it. It helps me to write when I can connect something tangible to the story.

This particular piece contains the first written account of the Deluge. It’s the tale of a man asked by his god to build an Ark so he, his family, and the various animals could survive a Great Flood that other gods were causing to destroy mankind. The -literally- funny part of this version is why the gods wanted to kill us all off: Human were too noisy and annoying. (Yup, this definitely rings true to me.)

Over the years I’ve collected other items to help ground my thoughts into a story. See:

What about you? Is your muse tangible? Or maybe it’s music? Or is it something else entirely?


22 thoughts on “Muse

  1. mimispeike says:

    I don’t believe in a muse for writing. I believe in a muse for fashion design. Your muse is the woman/man you are designing for, your ideal in terms of looks and lifestyle both. Donatella was Gianni’s muse. A strawberry blonde – can’t think of her name. Wait, it was Maggie – was Michael Kors’ muse. Translated to writing, a muse would be the reader you write to, whom you aim to appeal to.

    Is a muse something that gets you in the mood to write? I see a headline, it gives me an idea. A photo, a comment, ditto. My husband is used to me interrupting his discussion of some arcane topic with, Ha! I can use that for Sly! Thanks.

    I’m wondering, how can I work Gilgamesh into Sly? Don’t bet that I won’t.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I remember reading Gilgamesh my first semester in college and being awestruck that a written story could be so old. I also read Song of Roland that same semester. It’s probably the most graphically violent “ballad” I’ve ever read. I don’t think I have a writing muse, just inspiration and serendipity.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. DocTom says:

    I find my muses in many things. One story I wrote was inspired by the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. The reaction was so joyous it inspired me to write a cautionary tale. Another was inspired by an odd thought: what if the great extinctions in earth’s history were the result of a time war? A chapter in a novel was the result of having seen a lovely concert. The thought that only absolute evil could find fault with such beauty intrigued me. I could go on and on about objects, experiences and even other stories I’ve read, but the point really seems to be that the Muses touch you as they will at times and in ways of their own choosing.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I must confess that I arched a Spockian brow over the revelation that you penned a “cautionary tale” written after the repeal of “DADT”, inspired–as you state–by concern over the resulting “joyous reaction” that followed repeal. I suspect I would find that story offensive and deeply troubling. (Please notice that I did not say you had no right to write such a tale, or to wrestle with the issues such a repeal aroused in you. Please also note that I appreciate the fact that we engage in civil, reasoned discussion on this site, even when–upon occasion–debating certain “culture war” hot-button issues. Although my own views must be frankly stated re: the LGBTQ community. Civil rights for oppressed minorities are not up for debate or vote, especially given the appalling history of physical, psychic and spiritual damage inflicted upon countless LGBTQ people by homophobic hetero majorities throughout history. Not trying to start a flame war with you, Doc Tom; merely unequivocally stating my position–for the record.)

      I must also confess that I am intrigued by your exploring the notion that the great extinctions of history may have occurred as the result of a time war; I could envision an entire series of books based on that premise. How far did you get with this latter notion?

      Liked by 4 people

      • DocTom says:

        Oh Carl, I see our current national political ethos has us all on a tripwire. The cautionary tale I wrote was not some reactionary “gays will destroy the military” nonsense, but more of a “great, but keep your guard up” story. As a matter of fact, you read it on Book Country. It’s titled “And the Last Shall Be First.” You might remember that it was about a generation ship taken over by a fundamentalist group lead by a messianic figure, who for various reasons is homophobic. The “caution” is simply the historical fact that those who are last to attain rights and privileges in any society are always the first to lose them when something goes wrong, hence the title.

        As far as the time war story, just the one. Sent both stories out to a couple of publications, but no luck with either. I might post them on my webpage in a month or so. I haven’t looked at either in quite a while so I want to re-read them first.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Oh good grief; I do remember that story–and that I quite liked it! I did not recognize that old tale from your rather problematic description; heh! Forgive me, Tom, for a possible over-reaction here, but in this day-and-age where divers trolls comb through social media looking for evidence of “wrong mindset” and (depending on your personal politics) “evil values” I thought it necessary to make a clear and ringing statement about where I stand on LGBTQ issues.

          Liked by 3 people

          • DocTom says:

            Not a problem, Carl. I fully understand your reasoning. It’s just a shame that we have to live in fear of “influencers” and other minor league Torquemadas. I guess that’s the one nice thing about sci-fi. There are no Martians out there to flay you if you have a Martian character in a story since you weren’t brought up as a Martian.

            Liked by 3 people

    • I’m curious about the Time War, too. Please elucidate.

      As for Muses, I am torn. Am I to attribute inspiration to an outside consciousness attempting to guide my brain’s sparking synapses toward creating a work of art? Or can a brain glitch that leaps from thinking “crappy apartment” to saying “crapartment” be the ultimate source of inspiration? I like to think I am observant enough and introspective enough to find inspiration in the world around me and in my own imagination. But maybe that’s all illusion and I see only what some outside consciousness brings to my attention.

      Liked by 5 people

      • DocTom says:

        Well, it’s a simple concept: go back in time and prevent your enemy from ever having evolved in the first place. It’s like the plot from the Star Trek movie “First Contact” where the Borg go back in time to kill the human inventor of warp drive, so no Federation, but on a much greater scale. Since anything like that would totally reset the timeline, only ships that are in the past when it occurs will survive to fight on.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Okay, I can see that alternative, although I prefer the multiple timeline/parallel universe sort of structure. So even if you went back in time to destroy your enemy, because everything that happened between the time your enemy existed and the time you went back and destroyed them has already transpired — after all, that’s why you went back — (and presumably your younger self is in that timeline at the moment before but not at or after your enemy’s destruction because your past includes living in a timeline where your enemy has not been destroyed) you have merely branched off into a heretofore non-existent timeline. The trick would be returning to your original timeline. Damned difficult. I suspect it would require you to return at the exact moment you left so that only you have changed, now carrying the same memories you had before you left, and new memories that no one else in your timeline has of what you did in the other timeline.

          Of course your enemy would still exist in your original timeline, so why would time traveling you want to come back?

          Liked by 4 people

          • DocTom says:

            Yes, that can be a lot of fun, but I took the more conservative approach that your timeline gets erased, so you can’t go back. The interesting thing is that neither can your enemy, since if you don’t exist there was no reason for them to go back to change the past. So you’re stuck in the past with what you might consider a temporal suicide bomber.

            Liked by 4 people

  4. There seems to be many ways a muse can touch a writer.

    One of mine is a 4.5 billion year old piece of iron. NASA sold it to me when we watched the last shuttle launch. They were cleaning out their gift shop storeroom and there it was, a documented piece of the Sikhote-Alin meteorite that landed in Russia in 1947. Subsequent research showed it to be from the Asteroid Belt. Analysis is 96% iron, almost 4% nickle, with trace elements. I had it mounted for wear on a necklace. Touching it really does inspire a feeling that helps me “be there” when writing space scenes.

    Alas, The British Museum refuses to even discuss selling me the original Gilgamesh Tablet #11 at a price I can afford.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Like DOCTOM, I don’t have a single muse.  Nor a handful.  Sometimes an image (or some music or a story or …) just grabs me, shakes hard, and won’t let go.  Planned chores have to wait until I have at least sketched out a response that seems appropriate.

    Liked by 7 people

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