I met Herchel Newman, aka Herm, about a dozen years ago in the original Lifestory Group on Yahoo when we were both new to the genre. I’m always blown away by his richly authentic stories. Whatever the topic, gentle humor or compelling drama, I’m mesmerized from the first word. We’ve stayed in touch after that YahooGroup went poof, meeting in person one time, and we’ve both continued to write.
Not long ago he emailed me some thoughts about his muse, the source of inspiration for his writing, both memoir and make-believe. He graciously agreed to share those thoughts here on this blog. Hopefully Mr. Muse will guide you to tap more deeply into your creative forces.
There’s a guy who lives inside my head. I call him Mr. Muse. Besides God and myself, I’m pretty sure he knows me better than anyone else. He is the contemplative as well as the whimsical part of me. He comes and goes as he pleases. It doesn’t matter if I’m asleep or awake. Sometimes he gives me rhyme and reason for things I’m having a hard time understanding. Other times he’ll show me something that makes me laugh out loud. That causes my wife to wonder about me sometimes. I admit to being quite fond of him even though at times he’ll begin a story or piece of poetry and decide to take a nap before he gets to the end. And sometimes–like now–I call for him and he’s no where to be found.
Mr. Muse, for the most part, is a class act. For instance, recently he showed up while I was doing some free writing–you know, just to see some words going on my computer screen. He started telling a story, I would say from the inside out. Kind of like starting a novel in Chapter 4. Here’s the kicker. He was talking–get this–in character just as if he was Bogart.
Listen to Humphrey Bogart’s voice: “She took a table caddy-corner to the left and front of mine. Her red dress fit as well as the name Coke-A-Cola on a tall bottle. I didn’t mean to stare. It’s just there wasn’t anything else that could compete for my attention. She crossed her legs at the ankles like it was a romantic dance move. I never understood how shoes could be considered sexy until I noticed hers at the end of those cinnamon brown legs. Her brown hair cascaded just past her shoulders with silken waves the Mississip would envy. Her perfume invaded my space and deliberately sat like an invited guest. My wedding band began to vibrate like it was my cell phone. (Of course Bogart never had one) I joked to myself, ‘She needs to be ugly or I need another table.’
“She turned her head to the side, granting me a profile view. No, she wasn’t ugly. A diamond held a ruby dangling from the lobe of her ear. The corner of her mouth and that of her eye were gracefully lined to perfection. I’d no sooner formulated the questions in my mind: Who is this lovely lady and why is she dining alone on a Friday in a place like this? when I noticed a tear forming at the corner of her eye. Perhaps my answers were in that salty drop. She moved as if she might look my way. I turned my attention to the window view.”
I don’t know who or what Muse is to you, but here’s one other thing I’ll share with you about my Mr. Muse. He is a companion of my conscience. If I attempt to turn away from my conscience, he’s resourceful enough to get my attention.
Excuse me. Here he comes now.
Notice how Herm’s muse is fickle. What he didn’t mention here, but I know he knows, just as I know it with my muse Sarabelle, is that when a muse speaks, you’d better not only listen but write down what you hear! You probably won’t get a second chance. Notice also how Mr. Muse guided him to magnificent description details and the “voice” of Bogart. That’s hard to do when writing “cold.” Mr. Muse puts Herm in a state of flow.
Write now: Try some free writing, as Herm did. That’s the best way to get in touch with your muse, however you may define this source of inspiration. See where s/he leads you. And don’t forget to write down any ideas your muse whispers in your ear at odd times and places.
Herchel Newman A.K.A. Herm, has been a seasoned storyteller all his adult life. He added photography to his skill and operated a successful wedding photography business for many years. He has stories published in three titles of Chicken Soup for the Soul – one a cover highlight. He loves family and romancing Sweet Lonnie, his wife of forty-four years. Also a motorcycle enthusiast, he says every day has an adventure to write about. Click here to read his spellbinding story, Escape from Hell, excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Miracles. He is a valued member of the Life Writers Forum.