It's all about the muse...
We made it! The final episode of 10 things you need to know when starting out in voiceover.
Number 10: You can’t force things to happen. You’ve done everything right. You got great training from a respected coach. You researched the niche markets that you will be targeting and have come up with a business plan on how to market to your strengths. Website is complete. Check. Professionally produced demo complete. Check. Home studio set up and ready to take on the world. Check, check and double check! Wait, you are going to need to build a dam to control the massive influx of voiceover jobs! Something like the proportions of the Hoover dam to prepare for the wave of opportunities that are going to flood your way.
Whoa there horsey! Geez, I wish it was like that. I really, really do. Not just for your sake but for my sake too! Yet, there is a creative force out there that is out of our control. Some people call it the muse, the creative spirit or divine intervention. Nobody knows exactly what it is, but it is no coincidence that in nearly every civilization known to man, there was, or is, a spirit associated with creativity. From the Aztecs to Aboriginals, Buddhists to Greeks, Norse to Native American’s. The list is endless. It is a force that is unexplainable and unfathomable.
So, what is this divine power? Famous American mythologist, writer and lecturer, Joseph Campbell sums it up quite well with this extract from his TV series with Bill Moyer called “The Power of Myth” (the companion book): “Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what have been called the Muses, or, in biblical language, ‘God.’ This is no fancy, it is a fact. Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So, when one hears the seer’s story, one responds, ‘Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn’t able to say.’ There has to be a dialogue, an interaction between the seer and the community.”
OK, so what’s the muses direct dial number? How can you get in touch with them? Actually, it’s the complete opposite. They get in touch with you. And they are very fickle. Most of us wear a cloak of invisibility that prevents the muses from interacting in our world. They can’t see though the barrier that is your ego. If you think that your talent and creative skills come from you, that you are responsible for the magic that flows from your subconscious, then the muses will just pass you by. They can’t bear self-serving egotistical behavior. It is like insect repellant for the creative soul. Those who submit to the mythical power of the muses, the one’s who know that they are nothing without the divine intervention of the creative spirits – they are who channel their power. They are those who accept that the creativity that comes from nowhere, the subconscious, has little to do with them and them alone.
Take this blog as an example. I am not a writer. I have never professed to be some kind of literary genius (Can’t you tell!). These paragraphs are just a series of weird symbols joined together that we humans can make sense of. These words did not exist in this exact order until I sat down and started typing. They are coming from my subconscious. I don’t know how. I don’t sit down and plan what I am going to write days in advance and analyze my paragraph structure and grammar. I don’t even have the slightest clue what it will be about. I just sit down and start. And then something takes over. My muse channels the words and I allow them to flow through my subconscious. I don’t resist them. It just happens. Sometimes the results are great and other times – not so much. But that is OK. I don’t let my ego take credit for the good stuff and therefore the same is true for the not so good stuff.
“I don’t believe in that crap!”. I am not here to try and make you believe in something that I cannot prove. If we sat down and discussed it for hours over drinks, you would probably think I was a little crazy. And, as a side note, I am always open to sitting down with drinks. As we age, we come to realize that there are usually some methods behind most of the madness. To me, when I discover that nearly every civilization talks of mystic deity’s that are responsible for creativity, it just makes sense to take notice. I encourage you to read or listen to Joseph Campbell’s “The power of myth”, or “The war of art” by Stephen Pressfield. And there are many other quotes that point in the same direction:
“The essential truth is that sometimes you're worried that they'll find out it's a fluke, that you don't really have it. You've lost the muse or - the worst dread - you never had it at all. I went through all that madness early on.” - Robin Williams
“Most people wait for the muse to turn up. That's terribly unreliable. I have to sit down and pursue the muse by attempting to work.” - Nick Cave
“Music from my fourth year began to be the first of my youthful occupations. Thus early acquainted with the gracious muse who tuned my soul to pure harmonies, I became fond of her, and, as it often seemed to me, she of me.” - Ludwig van Beethoven
So, ignore the muse at your peril. If it’s good enough for Ludwig, it’s plenty good enough for me. Let go of the ego. Realize that special things can happen when you get completely out of the way. Just trust in your skills. Don’t force things. Let it go. Much, much easier said than done. But true performances come from that special place. Somewhere ethereal. And I really kind of like that.