Please watch the video first.
And so my commentary based on the video:
Today we say, “that man is a genius”. But in ancient times, it is said, “that man has a genius”.
I used to think that complaining about the muse is a silly excuse that writers use to avoid responsibility for their work, or at least long-standing running gag between writers. However the difference between hollow literature and something that resonates with the reader is how much genuine feeling can be put into the page.
And that’s why we obsess over quality, when that is merely the superficial concern about how much the author’s intent can be understood from little more than words on a page. Writing is an art and a craft. The craftsmanship we can admire from the strong, precise choice of words, the pattern of sentences and dialogue that build up to an effect. The art is the whisper in the back of our minds, “This feels right.”
The human brain is composed of the part that is a genius and the part that is reptilian. There is no convincing the lizard brain, it only recognizes emotions. But it is the spark in the chamber that drives everything else. Likewise, the genius brain can have all the knowledge you can access, but it can’t fit anything together when there’s too much choices. The genius must offer options, the lizard must devour the unwanted, like Ma’at feeding sinful hearts to Ammit.
Various subconscious influences like your body, your environment, your influences, the other things you have read, in many ways we can’t explain how words just appear in our minds to make the vague plan become a real story.
The lizard brain is lazy. If you let it, it would rather just sleep and distract itself with amusements again. The dopamine rush is the same. The genius brain is happy to cooperate, because it treats solving any problem with a dopamine rush the same as getting something done; and the logical part of the brain betrays you by saying that if it is easier, then it is logically doing well for less work.
Our brains are kinda dumb, that’s what I’m saying. Don’t forget that as much as we extol sapience, we are all still made of meat.
So it is fair to say that behind the writer is this big invisible bundle of illogical mysterious force out of our control that is responsible for making the words come out. You can say “my muse is being an asshole” as much as my “my subconscious is being an asshole” but “wait, isn’t my subconscious, me” so “Am I an asshole?” so it is better “My muse is an uncooperative spiteful bitch.”
The conscious you is not solely responsible for the writing that you do.
The genius, the creative mind separate from yourself, it is not acknowledging this that makes us modern writers feel so pressured and in despair. We seek to please everyone because we can’t decide our own standards. But if you write to someone else’s specifications, the story is sapped of authenticity.
Have you ever looked back at your writing and gone “Oh, this is good! What was I thinking back then? What was I feeling? If I could get into that mental state again… do I have to relax? I know I was gaming a little bit, how come I didn’t end up wasting so much time again as usually happens? What made me stop and concentrate?”
We all seek validation, but before that we need to actually write. Serial novels get that validation and the pressure to keep writing to a schedule so as not to disappoint your loyal readers. But of course books done in isolation are of higher quality, made under much more pressure to the much more demanding audience of one’s own unfair standards; you can’t be the next JK Rowlings if you don’t just sit down, shut up, and get it done.
The novelist trades away the instant gratification of commentary for the hopes of a tighter, more satisfying narrative later on.
So prime the lizard brain, feed it your unnecessary thoughts and knowledge, and listen to the giggling of the muse behind you, saying “Don’t get too full of yourself, boyo. Do you really think you’re the only one responsible for all of this?”
So go ahead and blame your muse too if what you’re writing doesn’t turn out right. She’s cute but kinda incompetent too.