We have all had those moments. The clouds part and angels sing, that idea that has been skulking in the back of your mind finally steps forward into the limelight ready to take its bow. Or a seemingly new idea emerges, simply walks fully formed into your creative space, takes a seat, smiles seductively and says “I believe you’ve been looking for me”. You are overcome with energy, time melds and flows, you’re totally emerged in your medium and it feels like pure creativity is pouring out of your fingertips down into the keyboard, pen or paintbrush. Suddenly you come to, surrounded by teacups and discarded sweet wrappers. It’s half two in the morning and you need to be up in 5 hours for work but you don’t care because sitting in front of you is the beautiful thing that you have created and the satisfaction of taking that intangible idea in your head and laying it out for the world to see is so great it overrides everything. It’s everything you thought it would be: it’s wonderful, glorious and 95% of the way there.

Wait one moment, did you say 95% of the way?

Erm, creative muse” you hesitantly say.
We seem to have a problem here. You see 95% finished simply isn’t good enough. I need to upload this thing and I can’t do that till it’s 100% – you see people don’t want to buy a necklace, painting or book that’s only 95% finished. I need that last 5%

Unfortunately this is where that energy dissipates because muses don’t care about marketability. You’re stuck with a creation that you love but that last little bit just eludes you. Maybe you’re like Lord Byron whose epic Don Juan was left unfinished as he would only write when his mistress wasn’t around, maybe you’re like the fictional painter in Amelie whose stuck painting the same Renoir painting year after year because the face of one of the characters eludes him. Or maybe you’re like me, it’s not that there is a problem with inspiration but a tricky little issue that prevents you from moving forward till you solve it.

For me it’s my Mermaid. She is the piece that started the whole Sailor Jerry collection. She has been swimming around in my head for months, growing more impatient with my inability to find the time to design her until one day I gave in and sat down for a few hours. I entered a flow, she leapt out of the ocean of my mind and with a saucy flick of her tail settled into my computer screen. I sent off for samples and as soon as I made her I was delighted. Then I realised there was a problem. A big one. Y’see I had made her without anyway of hanging her from a necklace. To put a hole in her head would look obscene. Like she had fallen victim to some sort of bizarre cull of mythical creatures. All the bails I have found are simply too large and the few that would fit don’t give me a large enough area to glue on.

No big issue, simply do the collection without her you say. I simply can’t though. She would sulk! I have spent more hours trying to find a solution for this than I have designing her! I think I have finally got it but I had to go way outside the box. If it works I will share it with you all, if it doesn’t – well I will most likely share it as well so you can see that not everything works out first, second or even third time. The important thing is that while you might have to slog at that last 5% by yourself without any choirs of angels and muses shaking pompoms it’s always worth persevering because the satisfaction of solving a riddle through dog minded determination has a satisfaction of its own.

For someone who has much more worthwhile things to say on the subject though I direct you to this TED talk.


When your muse takes a holiday.

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