The Origins of Dirt Bag Muse

I have a dirt bag muse, or DBM as I affectionately call him.


Artist’s rendering. Yes, that’s the bird.

I didn’t used to believe in muses. To me, they were what lazy writers used to make excuses for not writing. “Oh my muse isn’t speaking to me today” translates into “Meh I’d rather watch Gossip Girl today than write.”

But then I watched an amazing TED Talk. I love 90% of all the TED Talks I’ve ever seen, and this particular one happened to resonate with me big time.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” and in this talk she offers an explanation for the unfortunate association between creative people and mental health problems. Basically, there’s too much pressure placed on a creative person. The solution? Muses.

Muses, also known as geniuses, were “little fairies” (as Gilbert puts it) that kind of flutter in and whisper into the creative person’s ear to inspire them and give ideas.

This means that if your creative work is a big fat flop, it’s not entirely your fault. Your muse just happened to be having a crappy day.

It also means that if your creative work is a raging success, you can’t take all the credit (thus inhibiting narcissism). You have to pass off at least some of the credit to the genius who perched on your shoulder and bequeathed unto you the inspiration that facilitated your brilliant work.

After seeing this TED Talk, I decided I needed a muse. So I learned Greek and killed a goat and begged Zeus for a muse. And I got one. And he’s a jerk.

But you know what? He does have good ideas occasionally, and despite his best efforts, I still do manage to bust out some good stuff. So thanks, DBM, for showing up to work sometimes. Besides, he’s not as bad as The Worst Muse, so thank Zeus for small miracles.

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