Taming My Muse

I am wildly creative.  I don’t say this to brag.  In fact, sometimes it feels more like a curse than a blessing.

When I read about others who schedule their writing or artmaking time, I envy them.  I imagine creatives of this ilk, between their breakfast and lunch hours, seated at their desks or easels, blowing the steam from their cups of ritualistically brewed green tea.  I visualize them coming off cooled-from-morning-dew yoga mats, refreshed and ready to incant the muse.  They have clocks nearby to remind them, gently, when their scheduled creative time is done for the day, at which point they thank their  muses and bid them adieu.  Their reasonable muses bow, say “namaste,” and leave them alone until their designated meeting time:  the next day, between breakfast and lunch.  Post yoga.

My muse is a rebel.  She’s a being with no respect for human constructs like time or hunger or thirst or appointments.  She refers to such things using terms like “The Man.”  When I wake at 3 am to pee, she whispers, “you may as well get up.  I’ve got an idea.”  She stops me, mid-meatloaf-making, saying, “wash the grease off your hands and write this down.”  She seduces me with prose, “I know you’re supposed to be at the dentist in ten minutes, but just finish this lovely paragraph.  I’ll make it worth your while.”

Sometimes, I swear, she’s a muse on acid.  One who sees fascinating patterns in randomness.  A crack in the sidewalk?  “Get the camera!”  “Write a poem about the way the sidewalk on the left of the crack is slightly higher than the sidewalk on the right.  There’s metaphor to be contemplated there, by Gaw!  The sidewalk has something to tell you about the universe!”

Sad?  Write.

Happy?  Write.

Angry?  Write

Hungry?  Thirsty?  Sometimes, she prefers I write, but I convince her that she needs sustenance as much as I do.

I tell her (and my therapist) that I suspect hypomania.  My muse doesn’t buy it.  Hypomania comes and goes.  With all of her quirks, my muse is constant.  I’ll give her that.

I tell her that its okay sometimes to just be.  Yes, I tell her, I see the particularly lovely shadow the tree makes against the wall.  I see the way the light skips along the water.  I hear the sound of the wind through the trees.  I smell the burnt-toast scent of coffee roasting up the street at The Java Joint.  Just take it in, I tell her.  Not everything needs to be recorded on film or in a journal.

You need this stillness, I tell her, as if I’m talking to a child.  To keep doing your job, its imperative.  You can’t go around burning your candle at both ends.

She laughs at my candle metaphor, calls it hackneyed, but she listens.  Some things, she concedes, I understand more than she does.  Because, after all, I am bound to this earth.  Bound by time and social constructs and humanness.

Sometimes she gets it.  Really gets it.  How brave and awkwardly beautiful we humans are.  How we cannot live on metaphor alone, but must reach out — do the dishes, make a meatloaf, straighten the sheets on our mother’s hospital bed, go about the business of living in matter.  How we must touch each other with our hands.

16 thoughts on “Taming My Muse

  1. Oh Lord, Terri, you are so funny! I love your muse, playful and mischievous. Actually, I think your muse was with me for a season. It was when I was working on a novel. It was when I was nursing my baby girl. I’d be sitting in the rocker, quietly breastfeeding, and she’d dictate what I should be writing down word for word. I’d say, “Hold your horses.” And she’s say, “Nice cliché.” And if she wasn’t satisfied with the way my editor side presented her ideas she wouldn’t give me a minute’s peace until I’d reworked a passage or a chapter.

    • Perhaps our muses are sisters. Either that or mine, having grown weary of me, found you more interesting for that season. No doubt, she also wanted to hold your baby girl. Despite being a rebel, she loves the musky, sweet scent of an infant’s scalp.

    • Maybe, Jayne. But I suspect mine has been cheating on me with you and Debra. The trollop. She’s probably convinced each of you of her loyalty, sworn that you’re her one and only. Yeah. Heard that before. Curse her! I think it’s time for an intervention.

  2. i don’t have a muse. i have a group of angry old ladies, some of them with sheep, all of them screaming at me to focus, focus, focus.

    • You crack me up! Baaar Raaaam Youuuu. Sheeeep Beee Truuueeee … (If you haven’t seen “Babe,” you won’t get that last part.)

  3. Oh. My. God. I just discovered you and love your writing. I’m subscribing now.
    I often say that creativity is damn inconvenient. And time consuming. I so know that voice…come on, finish this lovely paragraph. Life has an annoying way of intruding.

    • Hi, Junebug. Wow, thank you so much. Glad you can relate! Yes, if I didn’t tame my muse, the laundry would takeover our house.

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