The Muse of Regret


Oh you want to be inspired? Earn it.

Oh you want to be inspired? Earn it.

I got to thinking today about regrets and how our regrets tend to become recurring themes in our creative works. I was thinking in particular about the stories that are currently being developed in the writing class that I am taking. Some of my classmates are new to me, so I don’t yet have a good sense of their body of work, but from the few that I have gotten to know I’ve begun to notice some recurring themes that get brought out again and again in their writing.

This is true of myself as well. I tend to write about the same stock characters over and over again- I give them different names and different backgrounds, but they’re the same personal archetypes with whom I’ve developed a certain amount of rapport. It’s the constant constellation of personalities that I use to navigate the world and to understand how life works and I pull them down into my writing as tools with which to build a story.

But one of the things that I noticed was that a lot of these stories- both the stories that I hear from my classmates and the stories that I write myself- seem to deal with personal regrets in some way. The themes recur because they are holes in our personalities with their own distinct gravity that pull us into orbit around them, changing the direction of our lives. For myself this ecliptic centers around the twin fears of Not Standing Out and Not Fitting In.

This got me thinking about the tired old motivational slogan to “Live Life Without Regrets”. And this got me to thinking about just how much inspiration we derive from our regrets: that maybe a life without regrets is a life lived without inspiration. Perhaps we earn our muses through our shortcomings, not our strengths. Perhaps this is part of what they mean about suffering for one’s art.

At any rate, I like the idea that our regrets can be our inspirations. I don’t have many regrets, but the ones I do have I try to stand by. But on that note I’d better wrap this up quickly or I will be adding the Regret Of Not Getting To Bed Sooner to my list.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 22, 2014.

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