So, where does the muse come from and how does this work? Well, I don't really care about that. All I care about is what she does for me, and how to get her to work. She's not a pez dispenser, when she runs out you can't put in a new packet of ideas and tilt her head back. You have to do your part, and the first part is to define your muse.
This is instinctual, and the great thing is there are no tryouts. Your muse is there, you just have to give it form. The thing I will not share with you is her name. If I were to tell you and you were to utter it, she would grow enchanted at the sound and wander off. I believe this, so it's true. It's like the cartoon about Simon - "Well ya know my name is Simon, and the things I draw come true..." When it comes to your muse, whatever you believe is true. Mine is usually in fairy form, frolicking out of reach in the forest of my imagination, or staring at me in disgust when I get distracted (oooh! birdy!) When I sit and stare at the screen and don't know what to do, she sends me these tickles that start with the phrase "what if..." Whenever I get a "what if" I pluck it outta the air and hold onto it like a life preserver. Sometimes, it is ludicrous. Sometimes I question her sanity. More often than not, she is right, or with a little work and a few more "what if's" I get the ball rolling again.
Now the muse is only part of the process. There is also the Magical Fiction Machine, a fickle monster with a sticky throttle. It doesn't work unless you turn off the thinking part of your brain. This is where I run into problems. When you worry about agents, queries, what will your beta reader think, what is "hot" in publishing now, rather than letting it all go and having fun, the MFM seizes up and the fairy runs away in terror. These questions, this real world pollution, sucks all the air out of the MFM's tubes, and it can't siphon off the imagination (its fuel source) I believe imagination lives in the oldest part of your brain, and there might be an escape hatch back there, a place that leads to other worlds. That place is your far seeing place. The part of your brain that hasn't matured past 10 and where "disbelief" is set to "suspended". In his excellent book "On Writing," Stephen King says writing has to happen in the basement of your imagination. This is one of the few places where Sai King and I disagree.
I need an attic place. I need to get to the far seeing place and look out over the horizon, get the lay of the land, see where the dragons are gathering. I get lost in the eye of my imagination and live in that other world. Then I have to shut the door on all those questions, all that reality, all those writer's markets. I have yet to open a writer's market and not felt like blowing my head off immediately after shutting it. If I can get through that trapdoor and let the imagination do its thing, I hear the motor on the MFM start the thrum, the fairy starts to dance and beckon and on comes the fiction.
Now if I could just get her to do the dishes.