May 14, 2016

Sometimes... you just need a little Muse

I'd really like for you all to meet Rosamund.

She's a Mark Farmer China Doll Reproduction from approx. the 1960's and I'm kind of in love with her.

Most of what I write is Victorian Era historical fiction. I love the etiquette, the technology, the fashion, the hair - all of the above. And more often than not, I can be found browsing antique and junk shops just looking at the "old stuff" and savoring the smell of moth balls (I know I'm weird - most writers are). But the best part of browsing antique shops is the inspiration I find.

paraffin heater
When I see an old paraffin heater or a kerosine lamp, I picture a scene - something like the people who must have gathered around it in the evenings after in came in the mail (they probably ordered it from a Sears & Roebuck catalog during the late 1880s - 1900ish). I see a victorian lady reading her mail. I see a man with his newspaper. I see a child playing jacks. And I hear a blizzard howling outside.

When I see a China Doll, I picture the little girl who loved her to death and sewed clothes for her. I think of the French Fashion dolls - not unlike our barbie dolls. And all I can do is gush over the way the dolls represent the fashion and beauty trends of the day.

So while browsing a junk shop about a week ago, I spotted this Mark Farmer doll and just kept staring at it. The body was in the wrong condition to be truly Victorian in origin (she actually resembles more of the turn of the century style china dolls). Still, she had the look. And her body was too yellowed to be "new."

So of course... I took her home.

Every writer has their muse.

I know some who fill their writing room or surround their desk with antiques. Others who pin maps on their walls. Some have a closet they sit in every time they take time to write. Other have a specific jacket they put on.

I suppose we're creatures of habit.

I used to have a "spot." I sat in the same chair at the same desk at the same old Mac computer till it crashed. Then I went off to college and I never really could find a new "spot." But then perhaps I was simply too preoccupied to really write unless it was for a class.

But then, recently, I noticed another writer had posted a picture of her "muse" on instagram. I'll admit, I was really inspired. She writes WWII and hers was a doll in a flight jacket. While I have a soft spot in my heart for my childhood and dolls, I wanted something more vintage. I pictured a Victorian China doll. I've wanted to own one for quite some time.

And in that junk shop, finally, I saw one that wasn't too pricey. And albeit a reproduction of one of the turn of the century chinas, I was sold.

I have my new muse.

We all need one. We're just a little too habitual not too. It's how we slip into another world, another time, another place. And if it's our task to take a reader there with us, then ideally, we ought to take measures to get there and stay there.