Care and Feeding of My Muse, Part II

by Julia Phillips Smith

A few weeks ago I posted about my trip to the Big City and how being immersed in the sights and sounds of  the metropolis always sparks my creativity in the best possible way.

I knew enough to bring my workbooks with me, even though I was technically on vacation (see: Do Writers Ever Go On Vacation?)

So while my husband and I hung out with his mom, chatting and laughing and watching The Food Network or Coronation Street, I had my pen out, scribbling notes and working out plot points for my dark fantasy series.

The magic of the Big City worked like Miracle Grow, coaxing the buds and shoots inside my mind into a riot of over-sized colors and hues.

Now that my yearly writers' retreat grows closer, it may seem that a weekend in the serenity of a coastal cottage getaway sounds like the wrong sort of food for my muse. Doesn't she need:

urban sensibility
sophisticated details
multicultural mosaic
arts and culture
the hum and energy of life

The funny thing about my writers' retreat is how it manages to disguise stimulation under a mask of relaxation. Sure, we bring wine along with us. Sure, we kick back and watch some movies on the DVD player. How could we possibly stop ourselves from walking along the ocean and through the woods?

Yet we manage to cram hours of hard-driven writing, creative exercises, brain storming and our collective expertise into a long weekend. When I get home from this retreat, my brain is always fried for at least a day as I try to process everything that lit up my synapses like fireworks.

If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's how to keep my muse well-stocked with tasty morsels of invigorating sparks. Once she's contented, she whispers such great ideas in my ear.

Photo by Helen Tansey

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  1. Truly, a great picture by Helen.
    The eye of the Falcon is within,
    the talon of the Dragon awaits.

  2. Lovely post, Julia. I agree with you that our creativity is another aspect of ourselves. It really does need to be cultivated. Sounds like you have a great system to do that. Have fun at your retreat!


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