The Fiction Writer and The Muse

by Meredith Resnick

To celebrate Kim’s debut novel PEOPLE WHO KNEW ME, here’s vintage Hooper as she writes about writing. [And there’s also my interview with Kim.]

by Kim Hooper

In writing, there is much discussion of “the muse.” Who is it? Do we wait for him/her/it to appear, or go to work anyway? Does the fact that we talk to this muse make us schizophrenic?

When I think of my muse, I think of a very lazy queen, sitting atop her canopy bed, in satin pajamas. She smokes those long, skinny cigarettes and sips champagne at all hours of the day. She is snotty and judgmental. She has ideas, see, and she is not happy unless they are brought to life in the way she envisions. She doesn’t help with much of this bringing-to-life business. If anything, she gives me one line, usually at an inopportune time, like in the shower, or on a walk when I am without a pen, or in the middle of the night. How many times have I patted around my nightstand at 2AM in search of paper and a pen to please this demanding bitch?

The thing with muses is that, despite their demands, they are passive, not active. Mine is immortal, like a vampire (and judging by her preference for middle-of-the-night visits and the way I feel she sometimes sucks the creative life out of me, maybe she really is a vampire). She has all the time in the world. She teases me with ideas and just waits. She is happy if I finish that short story or novel, but I think she is also happy just sipping champagne and smoking long, skinny cigarettes.

It is my job, as the writer, to be active. It is my job to take what she gives me—inspiration from that news article I read, that tidbit from the family holiday gathering, a thud on the head with that same novel idea I’ve been mulling for months—and make it into something. If I take the initial first line she gives me and go with it, she’ll give me more. When I open a new Word document, she’s thrilled (or, actually, I think she’s the type to be “titillated”). If I set the table, in essence, she’ll continue to feed me.

Some days, I don’t have mental energy, and I may wait for that to return before I embark on a project, but I don’t really wait for the muse. To me, this phrase doesn’t even make sense. The muse is always there, waiting to be beckoned from her canopy bed. She might not come right away when I call her (she may be giving herself a pedicure), but she will come. She’ll hear the whir of the computer, or my pen scrawling across the paper, and she’ll come.

Visit Kim at Writing By NIght.  Also visit Kim at Writing By Day.

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Thanks for this, Meredith 🙂


I really enjoyed this, Kim.

Tom McCranie

She teases me with ideas and just waits. Oh, so true. I sometimes thinks she hints at an idea and then hides making me struggle with the details, like point of view, scene …
Thanks for sharing and in such an entertaining way.


Interesting. I’ve never identified with the idea of a muse, but I know many writers do.

Alisa Bowman

This is just beautiful.


Loved it, as I figured I would. Have you read Lorrie Moore’s “How To Be a Writer?” You would like it…

njoroge konye

I’m a budding writer from Kenya, East Africa. I was overjoyed at discovering your wonderful site a few days ago while searching for facts on coping with rejection slips. i especially love the author’s 5 question interview. Kudos Meredith for inspiring us. i’ve really learnt a lot in the few times i’ve visited the site.,


queens are worthy muses, for sure, and we are their servants as writers. but i think muses are spirits that love the attention and return to us becuz we show them devotion and they give us gold and we stitch it together into stories. great post. lots of fun.


The problem with my muse is she always shows up when I’m in the shower and can’t take notes …


PS. Did you notice how I said “she”? I wonder if anyone out there has a muse who is masculine??

Barb Craig

Wow! So glad I found this! May I share it with my Women’s Lit class when we talk about the demands on a writer?


I have a muse. Her name is Megan, and she doesn’t so much tell me what to write as gives me ideas and will discuss the plot with me. She knows more about my characters than I do and she won’t answer stupid questions.

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