Connecting with your muse: My experience as a writer.

One of the most common questions I receive about my writing is “how do you imagine all those things that you capture in the novel?” Having these types of thoughts running around in your head can seem otherworldly to people who are not involved in any artistic profession. But the truth is, I believe we are all capable of this creative thinking, but ultimately it is up to us to decide what kind of thoughts we fuel.

“Creativity is… seeing something that does not yet exist. You need to discover how you can make it happen and thus be a playmate with God,” writes Michele Shea when defining creativity. And I think the key word is “seeing”, not restricted to just sight, but to the broader aspect of “visualizing” things that are not obvious, or simply looking at ordinary things in a different light to awaken the artistic curiosity within us. .

Many artists refer to this infusion of inspiration as “connecting with your muse” like the old masters of the Renaissance. But attributing this inspiration to external forces can really hurt our creativity. I truly believe that there is no better source of inspiration than the world around us.

Living our hurried lives, we hardly stop to wonder about the things around us, nor do we give ourselves the time and permission to follow our trail of thoughts, asking ourselves multiple times “what if” about all those things in life that keep us busy. they intrigue

Imagine what it would feel like to live in a specific country, experience an unexpected change of fortune, survive an accident, or be someone else. Someone of a different origin, age and sex. This may sound crazy, but there's an argument for everyone to try this exercise, even if you don't plan to become a writer. A word… empathy.

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in the place of another. This may sound like a simple thing to do in case you are close to that person, but when you create fiction, you have to put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn't exist. I create my characters taking traits from different people I know, those I have read about, or simply those whose lives I am interested in exploring. I build my Frankensteins by giving them strengths and weaknesses, and I simply ask myself, how would I feel being that person? What would I say if that situation occurred to me? How would you react? And in doing this, I bring these characters to life, simply because they are real to me, first in my head before living on paper, but I can relate to these characters in the same way I relate to a friend, a family member or a lover.

Going back to Michele Shea's quote, once you bring your creation into existence, that is when this divine process begins, even though it sounds presumptuous. This is one of the things I find most amazing about creating fiction, is that you basically become the God of your own little world. You have the opportunity to decide what will happen, to know what the characters think, to create the places where they will live. But the most critical aspect of creation is that you need to experience your own creation. Not from a ten-thousand-foot-high view of the action, but empathetically, walking in the characters' shoes.

To write Maia, the seventeen-year-old protagonist of my novel Vandella, in a relatable way, I had to wear her skin. I had to become her. Immerse myself in experiencing life through their eyes. Imagining what it would feel like to experience your cancer, which fortunately I have never had, confront your insecurities as a teenager, but more importantly, as a woman, suffer the absence of your parents to understand your personality, moods and quirks, just to name a few. . To convey her feelings to the pages, I had to suffer with her, fall in love with a man with her and confront her expectations of love, hope for a better tomorrow and make her dreams mine. At the time I wrote the novel, I had to live a different life. I had to become another person.

Few things are as satisfying about fiction as the escapism created by experiencing someone else's story. But contrary to the ephemeral experience of a reader or viewer, as an author, the sensation can expand indefinitely. Because all those characters, despite finishing the manuscript, continue to live inside you as tenants in your mind. I can close my eyes and form a clear image of their likeness and imagine the tone of their voices and gestures. In my mind, they are as real as anyone I have ever met.

As you can see, I haven't mentioned anything about connecting with a muse to receive divine inspiration on what to write. But to use my problematic experiences and those of those around me to create something that could be different, and that difference could make it unique. As Mary Shelley once said, “Invention, it must be humbly admitted, is not to create from emptiness but from chaos,” and I believe there is chaos in all of us. Because nothing creates better fiction than that fueled by our own misfortunes and tribulations. So, since we have all suffered struggles and falls, we all have stories to share.

I hope my journey sharing my stories can motivate you to share yours.

M. Ch. Landa

Oil painting titled “Eva” by my friend Ernesto Barba.

Discover more writings on these topics:

Did you like this post? Share it!