The Muses (Mousai) were goddesses of song, music, dance and story. They inspired poets and where also the memory of knowledge. We have nine of them in later Greek mythology: Kalliope (epic poetry), Kleio (history), Ourania (astronomy), Thaleia (comedy), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (hymns), Erato (love poetry), Euterpe (music), and Terpsikhore (choral song and dance).
So while they inspired others, we can be inspired by other people’s creations in the same way.
I’m a big believer in using different inspirational sources to amp up my storytelling. While there is reading (which always inspires me), I’m talking beyond the written word.
Just this past week, I have watched The Lord of the Rings again, and again marvelled at the imagery, the pace and the story telling. Yes, the story is JRR Tolkien’s but seeing it on the screen brings up so much more I can work with as awriter – especially for a quick boost. It combines all of the muses in a dance of story telling.
To me, these films have really brought the story of Middle Earth to life in an awe inspiring way. It’s showing not telling, and in this age of writing, this is a key element we are told to watch out for. Books of old were told in a different style. No less fascinating or entertaining, but more narrator based style- Tolkien, Dickens, Lewis, Austen. While now with the audio-visual mediums of movies, TV, and the Internet, stories are more fast paced to go with our faster paced lifestyle.
The LOTR is epic (Kalliope) with a richness of world building supreme in literature as Tolkien created his own languages and an in-depth history (Kleio), where different lands have different views and ways; Hobbits being a folk who love a good party (Terpsikhore) and have a quiet life. While others like the wizard Gandalf is more worldly and other-worldly (Ourania).
In The Lord of the Rings books, the love story between Aragorn and Arwen is in an appendix. In the films their love (Erato) is in the forefront and woven into the tale, showing the motivation of the two characters; their goals and conflicts to be together. Their story is beautiful and yet tragic (Terpsikhore).
The battle scenes are amazing as the sound, sight and emotion creep up on you and you cheer for the heroes, laugh at their jokes (Thaleia), and cry over their losses (Polyhymnia). For those hours Middle Earth exists, it’s people real. It’s like a history that has never been recorded, rather than it being a made up world. And to me, this is inspirational.
I also watch the DVD extras- commentary and snippets on how elements were constructed in the story and in the world building, colours used, how characters were developed, why one idea was abandoned and another taken its place. I find the creative process fascinating, and it gives me an insight to different ways of working. Ways, which may be a path for me to try.
So yes to me movies can be a way of juicing up our creative inspiration (as can TV, pictures, and music – i.e. Muses). They take us away to another world and let us return with a feel good sense, making us want to create our own worlds to hopefully resonate with others. It makes me want to pound out my own story on my keyboard.
The muses have jumped off the screen at me. No wonder I’m inspired!
Of course these two help inspire too ;)
So what other sources do you use? Have you a favourite Muse?