Philosophy of the Muse (or, Hot Tub Bubbles)


Ever sit in a hot tub? Personally, I can’t resist the lure of the relaxing hot water, messaging jets, and all of those bubbles. During a recent hot tub experience I was mesmerized by the bubble patterns as they clung together in big, foamy islands, zipping past me in the strong current, forming, breaking, and forming again.

As I contemplated bubble “behavior” I couldn’t help but think of the multiverse. Oh, you know you would, too! 😉 But even as abstract as the multiverse theory is I got even more abstract by likening the bubbles to ideas or the muse. So, read on if you’re in the mood for some philosophical musings.

A hot tub has a jet that adds air bubbles to the water like a fount of micro-ideas. They’re tiny yet plentiful; tangible yet impossible to hold. They come to the surface to die or join forces with other bubbles and coalesce into bigger ideas. This is our big chance to catch them.

Over time these bubble islands — already well-formed by themselves — seem to seek out other bubble islands while ignoring others. It’s the strangest thing. It’s almost like the bubble islands have a gravity that attracts others and yet lets others pass by. These islands represent bigger and bigger ideas. Ever feel that way as you were conceiving your story? Like your ideas were snowballing into more intriguing, exciting, complex ideas? That’s bubble islands at work.

Many times the bubble islands have one or more dominant large bubbles that provide a crystal clear view into the complex structures of the bubble island. In your story it’s this richness of detail that can really set your story apart.

But, “bubble” implies a short life. Here one minute and pop! it’s gone the next. Whether you’re peering into the window provided by the dominant bubble or trying to understand the nature of the bubble island (that is, the idea) you need to capture what you see and not let it slip away. Good ideas are precious and should be captured immediately in writing. Unfortunately, I’ve lost many good ideas over the years so I now try to capture them as soon as possible.

How about you? How do you ensure that you don’t lose your good ideas?

Image by Glenn Loos-Austin