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Musings On Muses

Another new week is upon us…

Yesterday, I had some blogging fun at the expense of the sorts of “memes” we as writers are often inundated with on Instagram and other social media. Today, let’s talk about another “M.”

[Office me. Today. Photo by me, 2018.]

From the start of my blog here, I have been honest as to where I get lots of my books’ material. Itโ€™s not usually just off the top of my head. Indeed is entirely making anything up even, honestly, really possible?

[Excerpt from Passports. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]

Much comes often from my personal experiences and is based on real people I’ve known, or know. I believe most “fiction” writers – even if they don’t or won’t admit it – function more or less the same way. Those people we fictionalize, sometimes in varying forms again and again, might well be termed “muses” – a person who inspires an artist, musician, or writer.

The “muses” were Ancient Greek goddesses. As the term started to appear in its modern English form, it was often applied to “unnamed” women depicted by male artists. Such women serving as painting subjects immediately comes to mind.

Unmasking those “muses” has long been among scholars something of an intellectual sport. For example, late 1700s English painter George Romney (an ancestor of US politician Mitt Romney) repeatedly painted in various guises a then largely unknown young woman named Emma Lyon. She became famous as that fact became more widely known; and based on what we know of the future Lady Hamilton, she would almost certainly have been at least a “reality” television or Instagram fashion “star” in our 21st century.

In 1787, Romney also painted a young English gentry woman you may recognize:

Called by Romney only “Miss Constable,” her real-life identity is still wondered about by historians and artists. Yet whoever she may have been in real-life, Romney’s immortalizing her contemporary look is a superb source for us gazing back from over two centuries on. “Carolina” from Conventions: The Garden At Paris may certainly have dressed like that:

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]

In a sense, that painting therefore helped influence my writing. Anticipating as well what I was thinking of writing about today, last night I decided to look around on Instagram perhaps for more on “Miss Constable.” Naturally, I ended up all over the place, finally stumbling on Slovenian painter Catherina Zavodnik, who had posted this a few months ago…

…which I have to admit made me smile. ๐Ÿ™‚

However, “Carolina” is NOT from only “one” woman. She “appeared” in my mind – if I think about it – based on several English women I know, or I have known. So she was initially something of a mishmash of several, and morphed into “herself” as I wrote her.

She is also necessarily sourced to a degree from the history of “her” time. Simply parachuting some contemporary woman into a tale set over two centuries ago is ludicrous. Her name itself, for instance, was common to English women gentry of the eighteenth century; and “her” preferred pronunciation was then a known variation on it.

Yet it’s not always about those people Iโ€™ve known, or know, or even about history. Often “sources” may be just who and/or what I see around me, and that includes on social media. Potential “characters” are all around us: this is probably the best time ever to be a writer:

[Screen capture of Instagram, August 6, 2018.]

Thus my current “tag line’s” attempt at a humorous acknowledgment of that reality. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚