Friday, 5 December 2008

Where is your Muse?

We writers are a neurotic lot aren't we? Sometimes we think we have Writers' Block and we can hardly put pen to paper; then we get a rejection slip and we become riddled with doubts about our ability to produce anything readable; or somebody makes a remark about our style and we try to change it - to no avail.

The Saturday Guardian does a feature each week called Writer's Room. There is a photograph and text about where a particular writer does his or her writing. In the photograph these days there is usually a computer, a word-processor - all the trappings of modern technology. Sometimes the room is in apple-pie order, sometimes in a state of ordered chaos. There might be a glorious view out of the window or it might look out onto a brick wall - sometimes the desk is nowhere near the window, as though outside would just prove a distraction.

Iris Murdoch, who wrote the most erudite novels, always wrote with an HB pencil on lined paper exercise books. She also worked in a state of complete chaos, the full extent of which was really only revealed after her death.

George MacKay Brown, the idiosyncratic Scottish poet, would get up early, eat his breakfast, clear a space at the table and write amongst the debris of his meal.
He would have his back to the window so that he had no distractions. I wonder if he thought about what he was going to write whilst he was eating his breakfast! Like him, Penelope Mortimer also wrote at the kitchen table (before or after washing up the breakfast things?)

Vita Sackville west - the best gardens writer for me - wrote in a beautiful writing room in Sissinghurst, a room in the tower which she called her "lair". It has been preserved in its original state today. The desk does not overlook the garden but she wrote with the window open so that she could smell her beloved roses.
There are photographs of herself and her husband, countless vases of flowers and a lovely little writing stand complete with pens and inkwells.

Virginia Woolf had her ink bottle permanently fixed onto a board so that she could rest it on the arm of her favourite armchair where she did all her writing. George Bernard Shaw on the other hand took himself off to a shed at the bottom of his garden. (This reminded me of Edvard Greig who composed in s lovely little shed overlooking a lake - what inspiration!)

Angus Wilson liked to sit on his window-sill to write - distraction just a pane of glass away and DH Lawrence wrote a lot of his words while sitting on a rock looking out to sea.

When Iris Murdoch was showing the first signs of the Alzheimer's Disease which was to end her writing career I remember reading in The Times that she said that the muse had left her for good.

Having thought about this I have decided that I shall write what I want to write, in the style that I like best and in spite of having a lovely study with a beautiful view today I shall sit in my armchair by the fire and look at the deep snow outside and just hope that the muse arrives.

19 comments:

Mad Bush Farm Crew said...

Writers block is exactly what I have right now Weaver. I have to write an article about a new learning software programme. I think i'll have to go and find myself a Lair and write the article there. I should be in bed by now but no I'm reading blogs. Good it's more interesting.

LIz

Gramma Ann said...

I am not a writer, but I love reading what others write. I think that is why I enjoy reading your blog. I found your writing today interesting and fun to read. I like reading fun facts about other peoples lives.

Enjoy your armchair and the fire and muse away. Where is my muse? I'll have to ponder over that and maybe it will come to me. ;)

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, it did arrive!

Was it Jacques Prevert who used to write on old beer mats?

Kyfarmlife said...

That was a beautiful and interesting post! Not only are you a lovely writer yourself but you draw your reader in quite quickly and put us right in the picture watching your words! I love the facts about other writers...very intersting to see what and what doesnt make someone tick!

Kyfarmlife said...

By the way....STOP THE WORLD AND LET ME ON! I've been able to leave a comment on your blog! ; - )

Poet in Residence said...

Dylan Marlais Thomas wrote in a wooden shed overlooking an estuary. Before Dylan the shed housed a car which had no reverse gear.
Somebody or other wrote a poem on his shirt cuff. Sorry, but can't remember who it was. Seamus Heaney or that ilk. Irish I think.

Debra (a/k/a Doris, Mimi) said...

According to Wikipedia, a muse is known as a guiding light or source of inspiration. I fail to see where you have ever been uninspiring in your writing, Weaver. Your creative and inspiring prose is what drew me to your blog in the first place...and keeps me returning for more. In a way, YOU have become my muse. Thanks much!!!!

Annie Wicking said...

Thank you for a wonderful posting, Weaver. My computer faces my bookshelf, not the window in the box room. This weekend, I shall be clearing it out so it can be repainted in violet and pale yellow because I heard that it can help to promote artistic endeavour and deep inspiration.

Best wishes my dear friend, ((Hugs))

Annie

BarbaraS said...

You need to read to fire your muse. You could do that whilst sitting by your roaring fire and looking out at the snow ;)

BarbaraS said...

...that's fire as in fire up, not fire as in sack... oops

elizabethm said...

mm, pretty museless zone here today although I would hesitate to call myself a writer. Perhaps I shall sit by the fire for a bit and see what comes!

Reader Wil said...

Right you are to write down whatever you like, it's from the heart and always good. So you have snow! I shall keep the same header till after New Year's Eve.

Teresa said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post about the little quirks of writers. I like a quote I read sometime ago that said, "The muse comes to the moving pen." I think of those words when I'm under a deadline and would really rather do something else!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think Teresa sums it up folks! The muse sits on the end of your pen - so get writing and we can all keep on reading.

Rachel Fox said...

I too have trouble leaving comments here sometimes...it just loads and loads but never does, if you know what I mean...and by the time I get through I've forgotten what I wanted to say!

I've never thought in terms of muses personally. Some days I feel like writing, some days I don't. Some days I have time and opportunity, some days I don't. Sitting by a real fire is always good though e- writing or just dreaming or even just snoozing!
x

Lane said...

Hi Weaver. Nice blog (and dog:-)

I yearn for a real writing room so I can act like a proper writer but at the moment it's not going to happen so I mooch from room to room like a refuge in search of a clear surface.

Gaze deep into those flames. The muse will come back. Oh yes:-)

Heather said...

I am not a writer but can appreciate the writings of those who are, and I love reading your prose and poetry WoG. I too have doubts and fears about my textiles and I think all artists, no matter what their field, probably feel the same at times. Someone said 'Be true to yourself', so give yourself permission to write what you want to, where you want to. We are all individual and should be creative in our own way.

Robyn said...

Loveley post, Weaver. The thought of snuggling in an armchair by the fire whilst looking at the snow outside is very appealing to me right now.

BT said...

super post, Weaver. I love your writing. I have no pretence of being a writer but I do love the words of those gifted ones, such as yourself.
xxx