• “The secret is not to dream,” she whispered. “The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I’m going. You cannot fool me anymore. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.” Terry Pratchett
    The Wee Free Men

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Sometimes I Want To Be More Substantial Than A Reblog

There’s a thing going around tumblr that I’ve now seen a half dozen times, most recently here, which is:

Reblog if you tell yourself a “bedtime story” at night to help yourself get to sleep

It can be anything…a fanfic, a headcanon, a personal fantasy, an original story, smut, whatever. Just reblog if you think up some kind of fiction to yourself to help you fall asleep.

This is a story about my muse.

I am in the habit of referring to him as my daimon, based on Caitlin Matthews’s In Search Of Women’s Passionate Soul: Revealing the Daimon Lover Within. (After all, men have spent so many centuries personifying their spirit of inspiration as a woman, why shouldn’t I have a muse I might call ‘he’?)

Once upon a time, he was something like a boy I knew. Back in the dark ages, or, as commonly named, the 1980s. The wilds of elementary school were complicated, but there was this brilliant, funny, fast-running, artistic boy with an edge of wildness to him, and he fascinated me. I imagined growing up and marrying him, with all those earnest childhood pangs of someone who knows nothing about relationships and yet has found someone fundamentally appealing, some inner chord struck that leads to imaginings of future domesticity without any of the context of adulthood.

It came to nothing, of course; I moved, we lost touch, life goes on.

But this idea stayed with me.

And I started out telling myself stories about him. Eventually I got a little anxious about telling stories about him, specifically, given that I was fairly certain I might have gotten some of his responses Wrong, so I started telling myself stories about people that were Just Based On Him. Standard fairy-tale fantasy self-insert fare, you know, noble knights on flying unicorns rescuing princes trapped in towers. (I know that sounds a bit Lisa Frank in bits, and it actually was a bit less rainbow sparkly than it looks at first glance, but I am not making excuses for the 1980s, I am fairly certain it was not my fault.)

And I would tell myself these stories at night, going to sleep. Then I started writing them down, and drawing pictures of them. (I had thousands upon thousands of words of the flying unicorn thing with the knight in black armour who kept her visor down like Eowyn so nobody would know before I was ten. She had a sidekick who had a baby dragon after a joust with a big dragon that was menacing a village led to liberating an egg. They were Heroes.) There was a wounded prince in a tower, in need of rescue from various Forces of Evil, and feeling unloved because of his disability, but my self-insert would save him. And so on.

I got older. My plots got more intricate, less deeply entangled with yearnings, but the skills that came from exploring those yearnings are the same whether or not the story is a childish romantic quest or a space opera about a genetically engineered plague or some other thing.

My muse comes to me sometimes in dreams. Sometimes he wears that boy’s face; sometimes he wears the faces of other men I’ve known; sometimes he wears other faces entirely. I always know it’s him, that daimon lover, that creative power that is and is not myself, that is the otherself that I pursue with my arts. He is my interior opener of the ways to the greater Story, and I have loved him for a very long time.

And that holy relationship, it comes from a child telling stories to go to sleep by.

Stories are important.

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