My Nine Muses

March 11, 2013

Henry Cavill in The Immortals.
Oh, inspiration.  That wicked little will 'o the wisp.  Let's go back in time and see how Homer dealt with the beginnings of things.

                                        Of the cunning hero,
The wanderer, blown off course time and again
After he plundered Troy's sacred heights.
                                             --The Odyssey, ll.1-4, trans. Stanley Lombardo
To help him tell his story, Homer invokes not one of the nine muses, but their mother, Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.  Before the muses, all knowledge was stored in the memory, so before the advent of written language (and, eventually, Google-equipped smartphones that now hold ALL KNOWLEDGE so we don't have to remember a single damn thing) Mnemosyne was a very, very important goddess.

Eventually, Zeus took a shine to Mnemosyne and together they had nine daughters: the nine muses, the goddesses of inspiration. The word muse gives rise to the words bemuse, amuse, and quite aptly, museum.   

So, where does my inspiration come from?  Which muses do I call on before sitting down at my beat-up laptop?  Here are my nine current muses, in no particular order.

Ready for a jolt?

1.  Caffeine.
In my mind, coffee is the flavor of adulthood, which can be bitter or sweet depending on how you choose to take it. In enormous doses, coffee makes me just manic enough to surmount my affective filter.  My favorite place to write, like Henry Rollins, is at a table in a busy coffee shop, soy latte at hand, the smell of fresh-ground coffee permeating my hair, clothes, and laptop bag.

The inimitable Bill Evans.

2.  Bill Evans.
Though he once played with Miles Davis, American jazz pianist Bill Evans' most beautiful recordings were done in an ensemble with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian between 1959 and 1961.  After LaFaro died in a car accident in 1961, Evans went into deep seclusion, finally emerging many months later to record the absolutely stunning album Undercurrent.  I love writing to the music of Bill Evans.

So pretty.
3.  Christina Hendricks.
Beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes, but in my opinion Christina Hendricks is hands-down the most beautiful woman on television.  I'm so straight I bend backwards, but I would become a lesbian for Hendricks if given the chance.  Did you know she plays the accordion in real life?  Also, she married Geoffrey Arend.  Adorable.

Geez a kiss, Gerry!
4.  Gerard Butler.
Okay, many women in my age range have a thing for Gerard Butler.  But for me, it's not all about those baby blues (greens?) or the fact that he is 6'2" of "This is Sparta!"  Every single interview I've watched on YouTube with Gerard Butler showcases what James McAvoy has called "the Scottish vortex of charm."  Butler is incredibly charming.  For that I can forgive all of his shenanigans and bad movies.  

One of his many hats.
5.  My husband.
I still can't believe this man married me.  Brainy, fit, goofy, strong, manly, funny, and sensitive, he's my walking love story.  He's got glorious legs, too.  The gods rain good fortune upon me.

Reading is sexy.
6.  My readers.
Dudes, I just started doing this.  Since as yet I have no point of reference, I like to speculate who my readers are.  Here's how I imagine my composite reader so far:
  • intelligent and educated
  • has a life full of demands
  • sexually confident
  • likes to get it on
  • wouldn't mind getting it on more
What do you think of my list?  Did I get it right?

Robert Louis Stevenson.
7. Other writers.
This is a toughie.  I find myself in libraries and bookstores, reading the work of other writers, and most of the time I have one reaction: the overwhelming desire to put the book back on the shelf, throw my hands in the air, and just give up writing forever.  Because how can I possibly think I can do this work when there are so many phenomenal writers alive and dead who say things so much better than I ever could?  Try this.  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson:
“I sat in the sun on a bench; the animal within me licking the chops of memory; the spiritual side a little drowsed, promising subsequent penitence, but not yet moved to begin.”
My, that is good.  Too good. 

So manly.
8.  Chris Cusiter.
I'm not going to lie.  Sometimes, I search the Internetz for photographs of men in kilts.  And last year I found this one.  (It's quite good, isn't it?)  Then I got curious about the man behind the sporran: he's Chris Cusiter, a professional rugby player for the Glasgow Warriors.  He's also a lawyer.  And he played in France, so he speaks French.  And he has the deepest, manliest voice ever.  If I ever met him in real life, I would spontaneously combust.  And then my husband would be free to marry Sofia Vergara, if he didn't spontaneously combust as well upon meeting her.

Alex Pettyfer in Magic Mike.
9.  Cowboy stripper music.
Yes, I have a Pandora station called "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."  I am not ashamed of this.  Nothing lightens the mood like cowboy stripper music.  When I turn it on in the middle of crappy Los Angeles traffic, I might as well be gunning it on some country backroad leaving a trail of dust in my wake.  When I turn it on the middle of writing a scene, the scene becomes immediately funnier and raunchier.  It's my secret sauce.  That and tequila (which makes my clothes fall off).

Oh...and why not one more...

My favorite shark.
10.  Michael Fassbender.
You saw "Shame," yes?  

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