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  • Writer's pictureLelia

Alter Ego as Creative Muse

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

To my delight, I fell down a Maxine Hong Kingston rabbit hole and discovered this gem from an interview in The Guardian. Describing a male alter ego from her memoir I Love a Broad Margin to My Life (which I immediately added to my to-read list:), Kingston says:

“‘If I were a man that's the man I would be. He's also my imaginary friend, the way I had when I was a child, and then I brought him back in this new book because he's like Beatrice taking Dante through the underworld. So he accompanies me to these places in the middle of nowhere where a woman can't go, and then at a certain point I have to go on alone because we face our mortality alone. I picture him as quite tall with a beard,’ she says.”

The idea of being empowered by a male alter-ego made me think of George Sand wearing men’s clothes and discovering the sense of freedom cross-dressing conferred on her. Belinda Jack quotes Sand:

“I can’t describe how delighted I was by my boots; I would willingly have slept with them, as my brother did when he was very little, when he was given his first pair. With their little metal heels I was firmly grounded on the pavement. I flew from one end of Paris to the other. I felt I could have gone round the world. There was nothing to harm my clothes and I went out in all weathers, I came home at all hours, I went to the stalls of all the theatres. No one took any notice of me or questioned my outfit.”

Relishing this freedom and styling herself a “workman journalist” and “boy-copyist,” Sand began her professional writing career.

How marvelous that both Kingston and Sand create a male persona that supports and galvanizes their writing. They exemplify Jill Badonsky’s recommendation that we personify our Creative Muses, the imaginary beings that encourage us to embody our bolder, stronger, more independent and creative selves. As Badonsky writes,

“Many obstructive and scary intruders emerge as we walk down the garden path to our creative awes… Mortals need valiant protection against these forces… So [the Muses] proposed the Bodyguard Act, which stipulates that Mortals Will Be Supplied with a Full-fledged Bodyguard for the Thwarting of Any Evil Force That Prevents the Expression of Creative Magnificence.”
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