Archive - muse RSS Feed

Why I hate writing, Part 5 – Fighting the muse

Back when I was painting on a regular basis, my muse and I were in the zone. She’d have me up a few late nights, but we were working together. She guided my mind and my brush and we made some pretty creative stuff, her and I. Some days I wonder if I should give up my pen and pick up my brush again. Because while my artist muse is quirky, artsy, fun and funky, my writing muse?

She’s kind of a bitch.

Take my visit to the beach for example. Had my artist muse come along on that vacation, we would have collected shells along the beach…

and perhaps brainstormed about different ways one might re-purpose all the planks lying around that used to be the pier.

We would have been amused at the clever way old floats were used to decorate the trees,

admired the oil paintings that lined the walls, and delighted in the fact that another artist once called the cottage their home away from home.

We might have even done some imaginary redecorating: “I bet painting the backs of the bookcases a bright coral would really make them pop. Or maybe a soft Caribbean blue would work, too.”

But alas, artist muse stayed at home with the cat. The other muse came along on this trip. She’s pretty much always around lately, whether she’s welcome or not. She even butts in on the rare occasion I’m painting or designing something. Rude, huh?

It wasn’t enough for her that almost every possible inch on the wall or space on a shelf was occupied by some token from another time. My other muse simply would have appreciated the time and care that went into arranging all these memories. Writing muse? No way.

“What’s the rest of their story?” she asks me.

“How is it that a college professor meets and marries an artist?”

“Seems she was a teacher, but not on a college level. Looks more like elementary school.”

“He appeared to be a deep thinker.”

“She was a bit of a romantic dreamer.”

“How did they make that work? Or did they make that work?”

“Clearly, many vacations were spent here — kids and grandkids both”

“The owner said her stepdad built this place in the 1950’s. Did he have kids from another marriage as well?”

“Did all the kids and grandkids from their blended family get along, or was there tension?”

And on and on…

It’s been a week since my vacation, and yet the questions and demands continue…

“What are their stories, Kathy?”

In my defense I reply, “But I can’t possibly contain those stories to a series of blog posts. There are too many words!”

“Who said anything about a blog post? You write until you’re finished. Worry about what you have when you’re done. Now, put some coffee on. You’re going to be up for awhile.”

And y’all thought I was bossy…

An Open Letter

This post was originally written for and appeared on my friend Brian Russell’s website a few months back.

I had just finished reading the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s about overcoming and avoiding the roadblocks we face in any creative endeavor.

Inspired by what I read in this book, I posted an open letter from a muse. Perhaps she sounds familiar to you. Perhaps not. Some muses are more demanding than others…

An Open Letter

It’s me here. We need to talk. I’m feeling neglected. Yes, I understand that your life seems overwhelming. Your child is sick, your spouse needs more of your time, cutbacks at work mean more work for you. Add the beginnings of what very well may be an ulcer and mounting bills to the mix and you have all the elements of a first class physical and emotional breakdown.

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t care. To me, they’re simply excuses; reasons to succumb to your fears. Ignore me at your own peril. Every day that goes by when you refuse to meet with me is a day I will wreak havoc on your life. I care not about your sickness and your busy schedule. I exist only to be satisfied by your offering. Curse me or bless me. But remember that you created me.

The white canvas, the blank journal page, the blinking cursor on your computer screen, the potter’s wheel, the unfinished song which sits quietly beside your guitar or piano, and countless other places. Where will I be?

Don’t indulge yourself with the illusion that you don’t know where to find me. You know where I’ll be. And I’ll meet you there.

Relentlessly yours,

Your Muse

“There is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

~George Bernard Shaw

An Open Letter

I just finished the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s about overcoming and avoiding the roadblocks we face in any creative endeavor.

Inspired by what I read in this book, I posted an open letter over at Brian C. Russell’s place today. You should check it out. It just might have been written to you.

Finding your Muse

Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King:

How to Draw a Picture (Part 5)

Don’t be afraid to experiment; find your muse and let her lead you. As her talent grew stronger, Elizabeth’s muse became Noveen, the marvelous talking doll. Or so she thought. And by the time she discovered here mistake — by the time Noveen’s voice changed — it was too late. But at first it must have been wonderful. Finding one’s muse always is.

Must your muse be a person? Well, it certainly can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

Your muse can be the questions you need answered or pain you want to make sense of. It can be the parts of your life you’ve just glanced over but never really delved into. Your children’s future can be your muse; your own peace of mind.

In short, your muse is what inspires you to create when you’re not feeling particularly creative; to work when you’d rather sleep, to promote yourself when you’d rather just find a quiet place to hide away from the world.

So, what drives me to create? Different things in different circumstances. But if I’m being honest (and I usually am), what drives me is the something my dad told me over and over as a child. Before I get into this, I need to tell you that my dad and I have a very good relationship now, and I don’t hold any ill will towards him. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. But I digress…

His philosophy was anything worth doing is worth doing well. Which I believe is a true and noble directive. His paraphrasing of that expression is what has caused me to struggle with overcoming some obstacles, the biggest of which was self doubt. I still struggle with that. I think we all do to a certain extent. So, what were my dad’s exact words? These:

“If you going to do something half-ass, don’t do it at all!”

Adults often make the mistake of assuming children think the way they do. When I heard that statement, my first thought was, “Okay. I won’t do it at all.” So things that were difficult for me I simply avoided. I convinced myself that I wasn’t really good at anything. But God knew better. I suppose I’m a bit of a later bloomer. I didn’t really know what I was good at creatively until my thirties. I spent a whole lot of years simply existing, not living. But somewhere along the line a passion for art in many forms was ignited. It’s scary, and difficult at times, but living is so much more fulfilling than existing, don’t you think?

So…find your muse yet?