Musing on muses, part 1

Artists have a long tradition of drawing inspiration for their art from various muses, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I do as well. The traditional artist-muse relationships tends to be a man being inspired by a woman, but I have always been prone to drawing creative energy from people, particularly men, that stirred something in me because of their awesomeness of some variety.

Those who know me well, or have known me for a long time, may be aware of how deeply my imagination was captured by Draco, the dragon character from the movie Dragonheart, my all-time favorite film. My love beyond reason and sense for this character strongly shaped my vision of heroism and goodness, which in turn has very deeply influenced how I write heroic fiction and drama. When I fell for Bernie, his particular brand of honesty, decency, and fortitude found itself creeping into my work in the same way. And it isn’t even always men for me. crearespero’s awesomeness, for example— the way she looks, her acting talent, her dreaminess, her athleticism —has made her a frequent muse of mine, from her playing Hamlet in my production to the visual model she provided for how I see Mrs. Hawking. Hell, I even cast her to PLAY a muse, when she was Andromeda in To Think of Nothing. A recent example for me was the case of Adonis, it was inspired by Chris Evans in the most classic way possible– his extreme beauty motivated me to make a piece of art. I feel like this is not something that people think that women do, or at least nobody pays attention to when they do, but it’s definitely part of how I practice my art.

People in general have a tendency to ascribe meaning to those things they find beautiful, be it a flower, a mountain, a piece of architecture, or a person. It’s often something as simple as the very well-documented phenomenon of how we tend to expect a good-looking person to be nicer and smarter than their more ordinary-looking counterparts. I know that I’m prone to it, both in the more mundane and the more poetical ways.

In Adonis, I went kind of meta with this. I know this phenomenon contributed to the existence of the story. But it’s in both the subtext AND the text as well. A major theme is the examination of what comes of what comes of somebody’s gaze interpreting another person— what it drives the gazer to do, and the effect it has on the gazed-upon. But more than that, some of the characters are ACTIVELY endeavoring to manipulate this in order to affect how people act. The story is about how they can raise a revolution of peasants and slaves to overthrow the most powerful empire in the world. In order to accomplish this, Aidan’s sister Morna, the mastermind behind it all, is working to position Aidan as a source of inspiration for the populace— if he can capture their imagination as this beautiful, heroic figurehead for the rebellion, their belief in him could translate to belief in the cause.

This is going to be an even more major theme in the next part of the story—particularly what a hard role it can be to play. I started picking at that notion in this scene I wrote for 31P31D. Aidan has very few positive associations with his status as the object of gaze, which makes it difficult for him to take this “muse” position on. This will also give a source of conflict for Diana and Morna, as it’s Morna’s idea, and Diana finds it to be making unfair, mercenary use of Aidan when it’s so hard on him. By contrast, Morna sees their situation as desperate enough that they no choice but to utilize this effect he seems to have, when they have so few other resources to accomplish their herculean task. I think it’s a very interesting issue to explore, especially since I’ve seen what an effect it’s had on me.

Someday, if all my dreams come true, I can imagine myself on the set of the film with my muse about to play the character I wrote for him. And I will probably weird him out as badly as Stephenie Meyer weirded out Robert Pattinson when she met him on the set of Twilight. But I’m okay with that, because then I’ll know I’ve made it. 😉

In part 2, I’ll talk about how things have inspired and influenced me so deeply I never even realized they were working on me. 🙂

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