Over the weekend, I started working on How to Think Sideways lesson three, which involves a really cool brainstorming exercise, “Calling down Lightning”, and talks a lot about getting to know your muse better. The brainstorming went really well; I came up with two good ideas over a few waking hours and one night of sleep on the weekend, and I think I’ve got another today that I’m going to start this evening for a short fiction contest.
But I was definitely startled by some of the things I learned about my muse. For one thing, I found out that it wants to be able to communicate by talking to me out loud. I’ve suggested a few ground rules on that so that I don’t blurt out a story idea in a situation where it would be awkward to explain what I was blathering on about, but in general I liked the concept.
I was wondering about a picture for my muse too, and at first I didn’t come up with anything but the old standby I’ve told you about before, and I got the sense that my muse wasn’t really wild about looking like Liz Parker, but didn’t suggest anything different over the weekend. At some point yesterday or the day before, I walked into the living room, noticed some of my stuffed animals sitting on the stereo, and idly remarked, “Maybe some of you guys could be the face of my muse.”
To which Ember, the golden owl with the smart black bow tie, shot back, (with my voice,) “Who says that isn’t what we’ve been all along?”
That really got me thinking. I know that a lot of people, writers or no, might think of having stuffed animals around, talking to them, and having them talk back, as something childish that should be stopped before you enter your teen years. My mother and I definitely wouldn’t agree with that sentiment. She has some beloved teddy bears of her own, and while I don’t know how much she talks to them while I’m not around, she usually doesn’t mind chatting with them if I do.
We even have two small stuffed bears who have become a package deal; Almond was mine and Praline Mom’s, but now they shuffle back and forth between our homes, seldom splitting up. They look fairly similar, maybe six inches long or so with brownish coats, but lying on their bellies in a sortuv polar-bear-like pose. And there have been a few moments when I wonder if Almond and Praline are ship-teasing us, dropping hints that their relationship is a teddy bear romance and not just a close friendship, but never admitting anything straight out.
I never really thought of stuffed animals in terms of my muse or my inspiration before, but considering the fact that my muse wanted to speak to me out loud, and that since I was little I’ve been speaking for teddy bears and other stuffed animals with my own voice, there’s probably a deep connection there. And big thanks to my parents, for never telling me that that spark of imagination, that suspension of disbelief, that can give a teddy bear or stuffed cat a personality of its own is something I have to give up in order to grow up. I’m sure that spending all this time with them has helped me keep my creative edge in ways that I never guessed.