First, let us examine the female muse's job description of yore: Must be willing to pose all day, in the nude, in drafty attics; read unreadable manuscripts in low-lit, squalid bed-sits; wash and hang malodorous breeches out filthy, fly-spotted window to dry; tend to scabrous scabies, beastly bunions, niggling nosehairs and choleric coughing; always be ready for sex (your orgasms are not my concern); and other duties as assigned.
Perhaps I give my muse too much credit. My laundry still sits, piled upon the floor of my closet.
Male Muses are as scarce as a 50% discount on Estee Lauder at Macy’s. Prolific writer and muse, Anne Roiphe, addressed the mystery in “Doting husbands and sugar daddies," a 2003 article written for the Guardian:
"Crazy, drunken, male writers, no matter how ugly, old and ill-tempered, will always
find a willing girl to mop up the morning after, but females given to bouts of depression, nightmares and long manuscripts that take precedence over dinner will not so often find
a willing muse to hold the pot roast."*
Colette's first husband, Willy Gauthier Villars, Ms. Roiphe writes, stole her work and attached his name. Her second husband, Henri de Jouvenal, did not. George Elliott found inspiration in George Lewes and John Cross, the latter being 20 years younger (always stimulating). Virginia Wolfe's Leonard, was a devoted husband, and spurred her to greatness. In a final letter to her sister, she praised her muse: “All I want to say is that Leonard has been so astonishingly good, every day, always; I can’t imagine that anyone could have done more for me than he has.”**
In these electronic times, men specify the perfect muse in their dating site profiles: The ideal woman "must be mentally and physically healthy. Those with Baggage or Drama (or dare we say it, a Life?) need not apply.”
Ladies, he's all yours.
May your muse be just around the corner
and put a smile upon your face.
- Mona L.
*Source: The Journey Not the Arrival Matters: An Autobiography of the Years 1939 to 1969;