- My muse is a fickle bitch with a very short attention span!
- —Sander Cohen, Bioshock
When a writer refers to their muse, they generally mean a spirit of inspiration and creativity that spurs them to write. When the muse is with you, the words seem to flow from your fingers without effort, as though pouring through you from an external source. Sometimes this source is regarded as a nonspecific, figurative spirit, and some authors may refer to a specific anthropomorphic personification, canon character, or original character that inspires them as their muse. Authors who like puns may be referring to a different kind of spirit altogether.
Authors love to blame their muses for writer's block and otherwise feeling uncreative and lame. However, blaming your muse for horrible writing is in poor taste, since it's the writer's responsibility to make sure their work is up to snuff before sharing it with the world, no matter how inspired they did or did not feel while writing it.
The Greek Muses
Greek mythology gave us the original nine Muses. They were the daughters of Zeus and the goddess of memory. They famously honoured the great exponents of their art with the capacity to create even more.
The original nine were:
- Calliope, the muse of epic poetry.
- Clio, the muse of history.
- Erato, the muse of love poetry.
- Euterpe, the muse of music.
- Melpomene, the muse of tragedy.
- Polyhymnia, the muse of hymns.
- Terpsichore, the muse of dance.
- Thalia, the muse of comedy.
- Urania, the muse of astronomy.
It is difficult to say which of these Muses governs fan fiction, although popular thought suggests that Calliope runs the Imagination Collegium for the purpose of training new Muses.
Muses in Canon
Some or all of the Muses may appear as characters in works of fiction, especially if they are based on Greek mythology, such as Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus.