I Am My Muse by Deb Tiffany

debauthorpicI don’t have a muse. Instead, I have a deadline, stress, three kids, ambition, a mid-life crisis, and an inferiority complex to spur me on. The trick for me isn’t tapping into all that–it’s shutting it out.

A writer I really like said at a talk recently that she writes best from a place of great anger or great love, and that really resonated with me. For me, I think, I write best from a place of melancholy, a place of sadness, a place of elegy.

I know there are some writers who can trot off to cafe for a civilized morning’s work, but I’m not one of them. For me, writing feels dangerous. I can go to some dark places, and it’s not always pretty. I might cry when I’m working. I might dredge up some unpleasant stuff. It’s certainly not something I want to do in a crowd. I mean, you wouldn’t stroll into Starbuck’s, and strip off, would you? For me, writing is kind of the same thing.

Lately, in a desparate effort to finish Book 2 in a private place where my kids cannot find me and pester me with nosebleeds/My Little Pony custody disputes/unpleasant surprises in their pants, I have taken to sneaking over to my parent’s house and tiptoeing down to their basement.

It’s perfect. Quiet. Child-free, and, most importantly, totally subterreanean. All the nasties are free to come out. I probably could write nude down there if I wanted to, but, instead, I’m trying to put the stripped-down stuff on the page.

If I do have a muse, I don’t like to think about it too much. Creatures born in the basement are probably best left there.

7 Replies to “I Am My Muse by Deb Tiffany”

  1. You are so insightful, Tiffany. I wish I had a basement to hide in. Well, I do have a basement – it’s dark, cold, moldy and even I don’t want to go near the creatures that are born there!

    I agree with you about the whole writing in public thing. I can’t do it either. To me, writing is a very private, intimate act.

  2. I don’t think I could write in a basement… I’d be too worried about creepy crawlies. I love to write in public, though. It keeps me on task (look at me, I’m working. I’m working here!), and cafes have lots of great coffee drinks I can use as rewards. I really can’t write in the house while my son is awake and home… too many Interruptions

  3. It’s actually a finished basement, so not too many creepy crawlies. Just the ones I imagine. But after a few hours, I start to get a little wheezy down there, so I usually relocate.

  4. Was that writer Anne Lamott? It sounds just like her!

    A fabulous post that I can absolutely relate to. And yes, civilized went out with clean laundry, ages ago.


  5. Hi, Mia. No, the writer was Lauren Groff, divine author of The Monsters of Templeton and Delicate, Edible Birds. She’s whip-smart and lovely.

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