How I Met My Muse In Australia

Muse, Writing

This post is about an experience that I had with the creative process through writing.  It’s a story that happened to me this past summer while I was touring Australia with our business.

I’ve always loved writing.  The act of writing has also cemented a special place in my heart, as it was the salvation that I had six years ago when I was struggling with depression as a result of being in the wrong career.  Writing exists, in a way, as a powerful metaphor for me.  Each day as I would write I would dig myself out of an emotionally dark hole, one word at a time. Writing served not only as therapy, but also as a continual refinement of my belief system.  I can honestly say that I’ve found who I am through the act of writing.

I also love reading – particularly authors who I consider to be much more innately talented than myself.  I love how a good writer can cause me, through their descriptive method, to transport into another world within my own mind – thereby completely eliminating my consciousness of “self”.  Because I am fascinated (err, obsessed) with flow psychology I’m particularly drawn to good writers because of how easily I can induce flow in myself when I am reading their work.

Fast forward to today and writing is a daily habit that I cannot (nor do I want to) stop.  My first book, Unsuited: How We Can Reject Conventional Career Advice And Find Empowerment is a non-fiction book that challenges some of the “common” assumptions about how to approach our careers, and looks deeply, from an intrinsic point of view, into our motivations surrounding work.

I started my second book literally the day that Unsuited was submitted for editorial review to my publishers.  I had such a strong habit of writing that I wanted to keep the momentum.  That’s also why I know that I was born to write because writing isn’t a chore for me, it is enjoyable.  It seems at times that I can’t “not write”.

I was encouraged by a successful writing mentor to stretch my comfort zone.  So I chose a format, for my second book, that I have always been intrigued by – the fable.  I love allegorical fiction, I always have.  I love books that teach philosophy through the use of a story.   Now that my first draft is complete I am happy with the results.  Hopefully you will also enjoy it should you choose to read the book.

When I started this book I had an idea in my mind about a general theme that I wanted to teach. I also could see the main characters.  I created an suitable plot and proceeded to maintain my 500 word a day habit that I had fostered during the writing of Unsuited.  Then I went to work.

I worked on the book pretty much everyday in 2014.  New characters presented themselves.  The plot clarified and crystallized.  Progress felt steady.  By August (the time of our two and a half week trip to Australia) I was – I’d estimate at the time – 85% done the book.  A few odds and ends still needed to be finished, but generally speaking, I was ahead of schedule and excited about my progress.

Our first stop in Australia was in the tropical north Cairns region.  We were staying at a little tourist spot on the ocean called Yorkeys Knob.  It was a very peaceful location.  Several of the nights that we were there, as the sun would go down, I would sit on our balcony and write.  Inspiration seemed to flow easily here.

Then my muse decided that she needed to visit me. 

One night, after I had completed a productive writing session earlier in the evening, I awoke from a deep sleep.  I checked the clock, it was just after 3:00am.

Everyone was asleep.  Our condo was black other than the light from the stars and the moon glowing off the ocean.

Immediately, as soon as I opened my eyes to check the clock, my mind was flooded with ideas about my book –

  • This part of the plot is wrong.  It needs to go;
  • This character need to be introduced;
  • This character needs to die – this is when he needs to die;
  • You need to introduce this theme at this location;
  • You need to get rid all together of this character.  They add nothing to the theme or the flow;
  • You need to set this part of the book in this location;

I typed out, at 3:00am, while my wife was sound asleep, over three pages of word document notes.

Then the muse vanished, as quickly as she had appeared.  When I wrote my last impression, there was nothing more.  I shut my computer and easily fell asleep.

When I woke up I was absolutely convinced that I had a lucid dream.  So I reached for my laptop, which was sitting on the bedside table.  Sure enough there were three typed pages of notes.

I went from 85% done my book to less than 50% done when I looked at the changes that now needed to be made. I didn’t know what to think, but when I looked over the notes again I knew that the impressions that I had made the book substantially better.

This past week I finished incorporating all the notes into the draft, and I can say, unequivocally, that the book is much better having made these substantial changes.

Since that night I have asked myself, many times, what is the nature of the muse? Where did she come from?  How do I interpret this experience?

Truth is – I have no idea.  

Anyone who ventures down a creative path will be able to relate in some way to this experience.

Sometimes ideas just come, like meteors from outer space.  I can honestly say however that I had placed my butt in the chair for hundreds of days in a row before the muse whispered in my ear.  I don’t know if that is a pattern, or a coincidence.  I don’t know if the inspiration was always in my head, and I just needed time for it to work its way out, or if the muse truly is something greater than myself.

All I know is that being part of the creative process is really cool, and easily the most intrinsically rewarding aspect of my life.  I love it.  I will create for as long as I live.

Find a way to create.

Your life will never be the same.

You will never lack for fulfillment.

As you “create” something, so will you “create” fulfillment in your life.


One comment on “How I Met My Muse In Australia”
  1. Ziva L. Rakotondrasoa says:

    Ryan, I’ve always admired you. You are a real leader.

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