Muse, Awen and Audience

The idea of muses comes from Greek myth – nine goddesses presiding over the arts and gifting creative types with inspiration. Writers will often talk about their muse – that elusive, mysterious and often fickle creature that keeps them telling stories. For some it’s an abstract idea, for others a much more defined entity. Druids speak more of awen, a flowing, creative force, a well we might dip into.

For most of my adult life, muses have not been abstract concepts, and awen has flowed to me through specific other people. Sometimes in droplets and flashes of insight, but usually more sustained. Love and inspiration run close together for me, and always did. Those I love inspire me, and those who inspire me, I love – whichever way round it starts.

I spent a lot of years finding I needed multiple muses. While there were a fair few people who inspired me at any given time, no one held the position of muse alone, for any long period. In the intensity of a new connection, I might become focused on one person for a while, and it might last weeks, or months before I needed more, but I always needed more. I had some wonderful and very inspiring connections with friends, fellow musicians, other creative people and a few lovers, and sometimes the awen flowed well for me, and sometimes it didn’t. There were plenty of lost times, weeks when scant inspiration came my way, and when no-one inspired me.

It takes a toll on any relationship, that. I’ve seen it from the other side too, having other creative people I connected with. To find that you have not, or are not feeding the creativity of another, can be disheartening in the extreme, especially if you’ve actively sought to play muse for them. This was one of the reasons I tended to invest in multiple people – it meant no one person had sole responsibility for my creativity, and if one source dried up, I had other options. And then something very strange happened… and I’ve gone a year with one muse, and it works very well indeed. 

If you find yourself wanting to support a creative person and be a muse for them, there are a lot of practical things you can do to help. Feed them stories – your own and other peoples. In order to be creative, you need a rich, sustained diet of ideas, experiences and emotions. The company of people who inspire strong feelings and share exciting things is hugely advantageous. Praise, enthusiasm and positive feedback are also tremendously helpful. The vast majority of creative people are plagued by doubts and uncertainties – that’s what keeps them striving to do better. But, good feedback helps make it feel worthwhile. Take an interest. Be there to listen. Keep believing in your creative person when they are struggling, because they will need you then. Be there to cheer for them when it all goes well. You will make a huge difference.

Creativity flourishes if you nurture it. Being able to support someone else’s creativity can be the most rewarding of experiences. Inspiration is one of the most magical things I know of, and to knowingly inspire another, is a beautiful thing to get to do. Creative people need an audience for what they do. Without someone else to enjoy and appreciate it, creativity is not that much fun. You may feel compelled to do it anyway, but it’s not the same as sharing. Enthusiastic audiences are wonderful, and they keep creative folk going.

To all you who offer praise and encouragement, who share your responses, ask for more, contemplate meanings and otherwise contribute, know that you are much appreciated, and greatly valued.