What’s a muse, and does every creative person have one? I thought having a muse was something reserved for the ancient Greeks, but I was wrong (thank goodness!). Then I wondered – would it be possible for me to have a muse? I didn’t think so, but imagine my surprise when I realized I already had one!
I say “it” because my muse is not human – it’s a moose. And no, I didn’t choose it, it chose me.
He began to reveal himself when I was researching my middle-grade novel, “The Mystery at Moz Hollow.” (Moz is the Algonquin name for moose.) The story is set in northern Minnesota, where moose still live, so I wanted them to have a presence somewhere in the story. My editor wasn’t convinced – she suggested I ditch the whole moose idea. But a voice inside told me not to back down, and I told her I wanted to keep them as part of the story. Reluctantly, she agreed. “Then you have to make it work,” she said.
As I wrote the story, I researched moose traits, behaviors, and habits. Then I started noticing something – I had moose items in my house that I’d purchased years ago. A cuddly stuffed one, a refrigerator magnet, and a little moose toy that collapses when you push a button in the base. I had these long before I started writing my story, but they grabbed my attention every time I was in the same room with them. He was beginning to speak to me.
When I traveled to Minnesota to research my story, I found a small, wooden moose to put on my desk along with an old Christmas card I’d framed years ago because I loved the image. They were physical reminders of my story, encouraged me to keep working, and inspired me to push through the moments of frustration and despair that made me want to give up. I struggled, doubted myself and my abilities, but the moose was always there, steadfast and strong. I couldn’t let him down, or myself.
I’d never seen a real, live moose (unless you count one I saw years ago at a zoo in Minnesota, but I’m not). Then it happened. On a trip to Glacier National Park, we took a hike that I thought would be the end of me. Twelve miles I was not prepared for (my fault entirely), but with it came the most amazing, chance encounter. We saw a moose in a deep ravine at the start of our hike. A small, brown dot, but a moose! I took a photo (dot explanation would be required) and we continued on. During a break, our guide motioned us to gather in a small, quiet group, and there he was. I held my breath as I clicked the shutter. He looked at us, crossed the path, and continued up the ridge. There was my muse!
The first Moz story is done, with two more to follow. My muse will be there, in different seasons, with a presence to match. He keeps me going, keeps me inspired, and I’m not going to let him down.