I was checking my twitter feed earlier today and I follow, as many people do, Neil Gaiman. He had a really cool picture and I had to share it. It is a picture of Alice Liddell, the young girl for whom Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland, one of the great fantasies of all time. I think all future Alices should look like this beautiful girl although I realize that Carroll himself described her somewhat differently. We should honor this child who functioned as a muse to Charles Dobson.
Several people have asked me if I feel I have a muse. First, let me say that anyone who feels compelled to write, as I do, may not even have looked that deeply into the source of their compulsion. No one I know has found inspiration in a little neighborhood girl, more’s the pity. But some have found inspiration in abstract concepts like love or equality. Some find that they feel compelled to write stories of disaster or post disaster horror. They find, some of them, that 9/11 inspires them.
I have joked that I do not have a muse; I have a house party of characters in my head who occasionally insist that I listen to the story they have to tell. I did not know this when I recently started to write, but the words flowed out of my fingers onto the screen with minimal import from my brain. It was not particularly well written, but it was a story, and one that I could not see how to finish. I shouldn’t have worried because one of my characters figured it out and announced it on the last page. The rewrite is mine but with guidance from the more reliable characters in the story. They were not necessarily the ones who told the story originally.
I have started a second tale with another character’s story. My characters from the first, now preliminarily called Fantastical Trips, are unhappy because they feel they were entitled to a sequel. Nonsense! They may know the stories, but I still control the fingers. I will not be hijacked again.