In ancient Greek mythology, the muses were goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and art. There were originally three muses, but the group later grew to nine.
In Renaissance and Neoclassical art, the muses were equipped with specific props to help identify them.
Calliope (epic poetry) carries a writing tablet; Clio (history) carries a scroll and books; Erato (lyrical poetry) has a lyre and a crown of roses; Euterpe (music) carries a flute; Melpomene (tragedy) has a tragic mask; Polyhymnia (sacred poetry) often has a pensive expression; Terpsichore (dance) is often portrayed dancing and carrying a lyre; Thalia (comedy) is usually portrayed with a comic mask; and Urania (astronomy) carries a pair of compasses and the celestial globe.
The word "muse" is used in modern English to refer to an inspiration, but also exists in "amuse", "museum" (from muselon -- a temple where the muses were worshipped), "music", and "musing upon."
Traditionally, muses have been beautiful goddesses. So far I've had three muses, and they are all women.
I don't know if women writers, artists and musicians have male muses. Would Fabio be amusing to J. K. Rowling or Yoko Ono?
Sometimes a live muse may provide active encouragement, but sometimes a muse may just be lurking in the background of the mind. Sometimes a muse will be hovering above, always observing, visible and inspiring.
Creativity often includes an innate desire to please, perhaps going back to infancy and childhood when we want to make mommy happy so we get fed.
For most of my writing career I wrote about things and about how people related to things. In around 2005 I became comfortable writing about people without the things, and writing fiction as well as non-fiction. This coincided with my reconnecting by email with "D," a girlfriend from college whom I thought would become my wife.
After a while she lost interest in communicating with me, and I stopped writing the book she inspired me to start. I later reconnected with "P," one of the first females I was attracted to. I shared my cookies with her in second grade. Her presence helped me finish the book.
In 2008 I finally became comfortable writing about emotions.
This important evolutionary development coincided with my reconnecting with "R." She was a very important girlfriend from high school, and the first woman I thought about marrying. She became my most powerful muse and is responsible for what I consider to be my completion as a writer.
I've been married for over 42 years, but I never thought my wife was my muse. Perhaps because I did win her heart and we did marry and are still together, there’s less urge to please her. Perhaps her daily physical presence weakens the more spiritual connection necessary for musing. I don’t know. Maybe she really has been one of my muses but I just didn’t realize it.
(some info from Wikipedia)