Muse - writercize #29 (A to Z 13)

Every writer needs a muse, and every writer needs a moment to be quiet and meditate. 

In Greek mythology, the muses were the goddesses who inspired poetry and literature, imagined feminine deities who could flirt with music and language and give meaning to the written word.  If you are interested in their history and who each of the muses were, visit The Nine Muses of the Greek Mythology.  

As time passed and language developed, those muses inspired an English verb, to muse, which is described as follows:

Muse, as a verb, per dictionary.com:

–verb (used without object)
1. to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject.
2. Archaic . to gaze meditatively or wonderingly.
–verb (used with object)
3. to meditate on.
4. to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon.

Today I invite you to take a moment to sit quietly and meditate on the muse I give you - a writer's quote. 

writing exercise:  Read the following quote.  Meditate on it for a few moments, and respond. 

"What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers."  ~Logan Pearsall Smith, "All Trivia," Afterthoughts, 1931

You may respond any way you wish, but here are a few prompts: What does the quote say to you?  What do you try to whisper?  Who is an author who whispers to you?

(Click "read more" for writercizer response.)
writercizer response:

I was drawn to this quote, I believe, because I really love to read a book that does not scream its meaning out to me, nor does it speak with such eloquence that I am bored to tears.  (A very good reason that I did not finish very many books in high school English classes - I couldn't bear to read a 50-page description of a meadow.)  I am currently reading a book that the author tells me far too much about why she wrote the book and her thought-processes in writing it.  She speaks too loudly.

I think that in whispering, we know that something is secret and sacred and stands apart from the rest of the world.  We feel as though we are entering a special world that we only share with the author.

Poetry often whispers as it washes over you with words evoking emotion and intimacy.  In leaving behind the official rules of grammar, the writer can play with rhythms of fast and slow, loud and quiet, shouts and whispers.

Prose can whisper as well, and I think it is worthwhile for the author to give their character some traits that they know about, but don't tell the reader in words.  "Show me, don't tell me," is a phrase I often hear as it pertains to the arts.  It is important for the reader to know a character well enough to wonder what they are thinking or feeling and for the writer to allow that reader to insert a little of themselves into the story, make it personal.

Even in non-fiction writing such as autobiography or journalism, it is just as important for the writer to choose the words they will report as it is to choose those they will not write.  Those words unwritten may be just enough to  allow the reader to uncover their truth with the curiosity invoked by those left on the page.

The reader wants to ask "but why?" yet have enough information to answer the question for themselves.


  1. The author's style, rhythm, personality and even his belief system is whispered to the reader. The story flows as words for all to see, but it's the behind-the-curtain that intrigues me. What is inside the author's head? Why did he choose to write it that way? How did he do it? What can I learn from the author?...that's the whisper and the lesson.

    Thanks for the muse.

  2. Interesting. I'd say what the writer whispers is two-fold (at least). 1. There are things that aren't blatantly stated, but that you read between the lines in the work, and that have to do with the story and characters. 2. I think you get a little taste of the author within each of their stories, but maybe that's a quieter whisper.

    Good luck on the rest of the A to Z Challenge!

  3. Very good observations Dawn and Shannon. Dawn, it is always interesting to try to figure out what is going on in the author's head. I can remember thinking in high school english classes while analyzing poetry that we were probably reading 100x more into the work than the author was thinking, or completely on a different track, but fascinated by how many various interpretations there could be.

    It makes me interested to know how my writing can be interpreted differently depending on the reader ...


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