I fail my muse too often, do you too?
Not long ago, I read a quote from poet Mary Oliver that has been hunting me ever since.
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” — Mary Oliver ( Upstream: Selected Essays)
It struck me because it echoed an inner fear. That hidden slithery voice that kept telling me I should write something down. And I didn’t.
This has always happened to me, but I never paid much attention to it. Awareness. The cure and curse. Being aware of it, of how many times I did it, was painful.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
— Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I don’t believe in the Muse. Sometimes you’re more inspired than others, but as King says, it’s constant work that does it. That said, there is an inner djinn that whispers in my head from time to time.
When I’m free and can sit down and write it, it’s magic. Words drop like tears and flood the screen with dark matter. It’s cathartic. I sometimes can’t remember how or when I wrote it. It feels as if an outsider took over and like an expert puppet master, made me do it.
This post is a good example. One day, walking to the supermarket, the djinn sat on my shoulder. He was staring at the sunset out of his ghostly pits. He was musing and speaking half to himself said:
“Wouldn’t it be fun to write about our muse? What do you think? Up for the task?”
He kept on explaining why it would be exciting and inspiring to write about the Muse. How could we connect it with this or that? The essay was growing in my head. It would be brilliant.
There was one caveat, I didn’t write it down. I kept on walking thinking to myself that I would write it down later. Later. That hideous word that embodies the worst of us.
Needless to say that I didn’t do it later. I got back home and got overwhelmed with my kids (I have twins and a baby girl) and forgot all about it. And so, the Djinn came back to torture me.
“Let me guess, you still want to write that piece about the Muse, but you don’t do it because you don’t remember what I told you, right?”
“Baka, Baka, Baka!” (Translator’s Note: Djinns tend to switch to languages known by their ancient personalities. In this case: Baka, ばか, which means fool; idiot in Japanese)
It’s painful to know you had a good inspiration and you let it go, like a trail of smoke, dissolving into the ether. The river’s stream taking it away, never to be seen again.
And so, you are stuck with this sad attempt at writing something about it. So boys and girls, if you, like me, get a visit from that filthy cheating djinn, take my advice, stop what you’re doing and start writing.
“Intellectual work sometimes, spiritual work certainly, artistic work always — these are forces that fall within its grasp, forces that must travel beyond the realm of the hour and the restraint of the habit.” — Mary Oliver ( Upstream: Selected Essays)