#IWSG: Never Say This to Your Muse

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  Are you a writer?  Do you feel insecure about your writing?  Then this is the support group for you!  Click here to learn more!

So the other day, I got into an argument with my muse.  I said some things that I regret, and she called me some names that I, quite frankly, deserved.  The whole debacle started because of the Internet.

Almost every day, almost every single time I go on the Internet, even just for a few minutes, I am bombarded with bad news.  Certain headlines pique my interest.  I feel this sense of morbid curiosity.  I start clicking things.  I start reading comment threads.  And slowly, gradually, all that bad news transforms into worse news, until everything becomes the absolute worst news ever.

I was in the midst of this downward bad news spiral when my muse reminded me (kindly but firmly) that I’d promised to do some writing today.  And I refused.  After reading all that bad news, doing my writing no longer seemed important.  How can I do my writing when the world is in so much trouble?  How can I do something as silly as writing when all of human civilization is burning down around me?  “My writing doesn’t matter!” I exclaimed.  “Not at a time like this!”

That, by the way, is the wrong thing to say to your muse.

As I already mentioned, I proceeded to say some things I regret, and my muse proceeded to call me some names that I deserved.  But after we had some time to calm down, my muse and I had a long talk, and my muse said to me: “So bad stuff is happening in the world right now.  Okay.  Do you know how to fix that stuff?  Do you know how to make all the bad things stop or how to make all the bad people go away?  Hmm?  I didn’t think so.  But you are a writer, and you are an artist.  You may not be able to reduce the number of bad things in the world, but you can try to add something good.”

And my muse was right.  It’s one thing to stay informed about current events; it’s quite another to dwell on problems that are beyond your power to solve.  I’m no activist.  I’m no community organizer.  I don’t have the skillset for that sort of work.  But I do know how to tell a story, and I do know how to draw pretty pictures to go with my stories.  The best thing I can do, both for myself and for the world, is to keep writing and to keep drawing—to give myself those comforts and hope that the finished products will give comfort to others as well.

With that in mind, there’s one last thing my muse said to me: “Don’t you ever—ever!—tell me your writing doesn’t matter.  Never say that to me again.  That is the most disrespectful and hurtful thing any writer could ever say to their muse.”

27 thoughts on “#IWSG: Never Say This to Your Muse

    1. Sadly, yes. Part of the problem is also that a lot of stuff on the Internet is tailor designed to ramp up people’s anxiety about current events. Getting sucked in by that stuff definitely won’t help. But writing a good story… that can make a difference.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m trying my best to avoid that too. Unfortunately for me, I work for the news department at a local TV station. Local news is a lot different than national news, but still…

      It’s one thing to stay informed. That’s part of being a good citizen. But you can’t let all that political news and political commentary take over your life.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow!!! I don’t read a lot of poetry myself. I don’t write much, either. For whatever reason, poetry just doesn’t seem to click in my brain. But wow! That poem is amazing! And very comforting for me at the moment, too. Thank you for sharing that!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. There seems to be less and less “news” and more and more pundit outrage. I suspect it has to do with money. Our esteemed blog host may know if this is true… my guess: it costs a lot to research and cover a story on any topic thoughtfully, but costs very little to collect a “panel” in a studio (or over Zoom) If the pundit just released a book, maybe you can get them for free in exchange for mentioning the book. Plus ratings go up with everyone’s blood pressure.

    Whenever I read or view an item that makes my pulse rate go up, I try to stop and ask myself “Who put this out and why are they pushing my buttons?”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You may be on the right track. Money is certainly a factor. A lot of news organizations are dealing with budget cuts, and getting an expert (or an “expert”) in the studio costs very little. A lot of these people are happy to go on TV and voice their opinions for free.

      Another problem that I see happening is just plain old burn out. Budget cuts are leading to staffing cuts. There are fewer people in newsrooms, and they’re being asked to do more and more work. A lot of people I know in the news business are just burned out, and they don’t always think critically about the things they put on air.

      P.S.: In case anyone’s reading this and doesn’t already know, I work in the news department of a local T.V. station. That’s my day job.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. There’s a lot to be said for taking control of your internet viewing. The internet badly wants you to view things using social media, but that’s just guaranteed to lead to the stuff you ran into. It’s what the social media platforms want you to see, because it’s guaranteed to rile you up, and keep you clicking (and viewing ads).

    It’s why I mostly use RSS feeds and decide when and where I’m going to read politics, and when I’m going to stay away and focus on science, philosophy, and science fiction. Not perfect by any stretch, but I find it helps me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m in the process of cleaning up my RSS feeds, as well as my WordPress reader, YouTube recommendations, and my Twitter feed. I’ve been aggressively muting stuff on Twitter, to the point that I muted the names of several states and cities. That probably means I’m missing a few things that I might otherwise want to see, but it’s worth it. My Twitter experience is so much better now.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Muting on Twitter is a good idea. I’ve used it occasionally for accounts, but not so much for phrases. I keep forgetting I can do that. But what I mostly do is have InoReader parse my Twitter feed, adding it to all the content being searched for particular phrases. So I see a lot of stuff about AI, brains, computation, consciousness, space, and quantum physics, and mostly avoid people’s political rants.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I totally ignore my facebook news feed. I set up my internet site “favorites” with news outlets that seem reliable and that notice there’s a world beyond the USA Washington DC beltway. I go to those sites when I choose, and even there I mostly avoid comments. Also, I temper my cable news viewing. Even CNN, which was founded to offer news all day, mostly uses pundits and covers politics. Sigh.

      Social media should go back to its roots: pictures of grandkids and funny cat videos.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. As I said, I do think there’s value in staying informed about current events. But a lot of the news we see online now is just clickbait. It’s very tempting. It’s designed to be tempting. But ultimately, it really is just a distraction.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I stopped reading/watching the news almost before internet existed! Lol I used to be a big reader of it but then discovered too many bad events or tragedies being reported on that didn’t directly impact Society as a whole. They were problems of just anybody in any little corner of the world, let alone in my own nation that most of us can’t do anything about because they are too local to those people. It was both bringing me really down while also raising my anxiety, let alone cause me to start my day in a bad mood. Since then, I’ve limited myself to mostly skimming over major issues that impact all society and reading local news and even this latter I have to limit myself. Much of major news media simply exploits people’s problems more than helps them and so I’ve been much more discretioning about what news I look at. I support activists for good causes but i myself wont be one, because as you said about yourself, I’m not skilled in it. I prefer to give something good to the world with my writing, including warning it against wrong doing in an entertaining manner through sci fi and horror fiction. I feel that can do plenty to help the world with its problems even if it’s just through metaphor. You definitely have a good point!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks! I have a lot of admiration for people who are activists or advocates. It’s just not my calling. Writing can do the world a lot of good too. It’s easy to forget that, though, when all the news of the day sounds so urgent and dire.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Love the conversation with your muse! My mantra since last year has been to stay away from the news. It was doing my head in. You’re so right about the clicking leading to more clicking. It turns into a downward spiral for me every time. I feel so much happier now that I don’t read it all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m definitely taking steps to limit my exposure. I do want to stay informed, but I get so wrapped up in this stuff that I can’t concentrate on anything else. Not even writing. I can’t let that happen anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never been politically active but have found myself being drawn in to the current car crash in the UK. My recommendation to you is to keep well away from it on the internet.

    Your muse is wise and caring. You’re in good hands there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! Yeah, when I try to look away from the car crash in the US, I see a suspiciously similar crash happening in the UK. And my Canadian friends tell me it’s happening there too, except with trucks. It’s hard to ignore it all, but I am getting better at minimizing my exposure to this stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

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