on writing, Personal Journey

My Muse Experience

Anne Lamott calls it her broccoli. Stephen King calls it his beast.

My beast was asleep. I tried prodding him, kicking him, calling him bad names. No roars. No lightning bolts of creativity. Just me, slapping words on a page with the precision of a toddler, becoming more and more certain I was wasting my time.

Writers have a chronic god-complex: the need to create something amazing. Luckily the god-complex comes with a handy counterbalance: rejection. One moment you’re in rags talking to mice and the next you’re wearing the grandest gown of all, dancing with the prince. Then the clock strikes twelve, and you’re in rags again. This is the rejection-acceptance wheel, and—from what I can tell—it never ends.

So I’m writing, and there’s this nagging feeling that it’s garbage, what I’m putting on the page. The urge to do something practical like dishes starts to rise to the top of my consciousness like sweet cream. I’m cobbling together this little flash, hating it with a Frankensteinian passion, and hating myself for the time I could never get back (the dishes weren’t cleaning themselves). Several times I threw up my hands in frustration. I said mean things to the screen. When I think how close I came to shutting off my laptop and forging ahead with my day, story unfinished, I cringe.

Because now, I love that little flash. It’s one of my favorites.

At some point in the process, the story began to have a pulse. I don’t know when, exactly. But it was as if skin was grafted to some dead thing. Beautiful skin. And I thought: I like that arm. Then, I like that leg, that face, and so on. Until I thought, where did you come from, oh great and glorious creation? 

Well I’ll be. You came from me.

I love a happy ending.

 

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12 thoughts on “My Muse Experience”

  1. Ah yes this all sounds so familiar. So nostalgic and truthful. I have yet to name my muse for it continuously shifts shape and form and facade. Perhaps I should call it Mystique (from the X-Men) haha.

  2. Brought back memories of the time I was teaching someone how to drive. At a stop sign, I said: “You can go slowly.” I SHOULD have said, “You can go slowly, when nothing is coming.” No collision, but a mind blowing vision of what if….

  3. When I first started blogging, a few users posted stories of their muses as a personification. One had his as a domesticated rat that teased him and took his ice cream; the other’s hired a mercenary. I want to write something similar, but haven’t felt one in a while. 🙂
    I love your mentions of the god-complex, Cinderella, and those darn dishes.

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