September 21, 2013

How to Be Your Own Muse.

When I was in my late teens and early 20s and going through a fascination with Romanticism, I wanted more than anything to be a muse.

Simply put, I wanted to inspire great men to create music, art, poetry, etc.

Granted, I didn’t know that many great men, but I befriended and dated a number of singer-songwriters, poets, etc. (In my defense, it was the late 1990s.)

Much to my chagrin, though, I didn’t inspire a single one to put pen to paper nor did I even inspire one of those bitter break-up sounds that were de rigueur on all liberal arts college campuses in the late 1990s.

Later, I worked as an artist and photography model, but I am not aware of any of the work I appeared in going on to become great works of art.

One day, though, it dawned on me: why couldn’t I be my own muse?

At first, the idea sounded a trifle conceited and narcissistic, but the more I pondered it, the more it made sense: Despite the fact that I know myself better than anyone else on earth, there is enough complexity in me to intrigue and inspire for several life times.

I am not alone in that either.

If each one of us take the time to look into ourselves, we’ll see that same is true for everyone.

Becoming your own muse/source of inspiration is both fun and empowering. It doesn’t matter if the art that you inspire is deemed “good” or “bad” by the rest of society. (I am firmly in that camp that believes that any art an individual creates should first and foremost please themselves.) It doesn’t even matter if the ideas you spark never leave the pages of your notebook. Rather, the most important thing is the act of creating.

Here are some tips I have found that have been helpful in my journey to becoming my own muse:

1. Keep a journal.

Jot down the things that inspire or intrigue you. It could be anything—a quote from a famous person, an ad slogan or the fortune you receive in a Chinese fortunate cooking. Sometimes, the most mundane things can spark inspiration. (Author Mary Shelley came up for the idea Frankenstein after she and two other friends made a friendly bet amongst themselves to see who could come up with the best horror story.)

If you aren’t the wordy type, then take pictures. In this day of smartphones, etc., most people have a camera within reach.

Notice if there is a pattern there. Do certain themes keep coming up? How can you explore these in more depth?

2. Have role models or a people who inspire you and borrow from them.

By “role model” I mean just about anyone. It can be someone living or dead, famous or non-famous. A role model can even be a fictional character. (On days when I feel I need to boost my confidence, I channel Pippi Longstocking,  that famous red-headed heroine who was the star of one of my favorite childhood book series.)

When choosing a role model or role models, keep in mind that a.) a role model does not have to be perfect in all areas of life. b.) the goal isn’t to be exactly like them.

For example, when I was first learning photography, one of my role models was the pioneering Victorian photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron. Despite the fact that her life bore no resemblance to mind and I had no delusions of my work ever getting the sort of acclaim hers got and continues to get to this day, it was comforting to know that like me, she once started off knowing nothing whatsoever about photographer and was largely self-taught.

Oddly enough, knowing that this great photographer not only made several mistakes but actually learned a lot from them made me feel a tad more confident and let go of some of perfectionist behavior.

3. Continue to be fascinated by the world and the people in it.

While we all those have those days when we want to throw our hands in the air and say, “Enough!” the world continues to be a fascinating place.

I like the fact that the world is constantly changing. There is still a lot of good in it, but fascination with the world doesn’t mean only being intrigued by the good things in life. It also includes being interested in its darker aspects.

As someone who has always been a fan of dark humor, dark fiction, etc., I believe there is an incredible amount of beauty to be found in some of the uglier aspects of life.

Often I’ve found that even people and things I don’t like fascinate me—I actually think the worst thing someone or something can be is boring.

Don’t be afraid to embrace and map the darkness.

While being a muse to others can certainly be exciting, being your own is even better. Not only do you get to have total control of the end product, but it can be a great way to tap deeper into yourself and learn more about your own creative power.

You may end being more intrigued by your own fab self than you ever thought possible.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise





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