Playing tag with the muse.

I guess most aspiring writers long for a muse. Popular legend has it that having a muse is the gateway to writerly heaven – you just sit at the keyboard, or the pen, if you are somewhat old-fashioned, and wait, fingers poised, for the inner inspirer to start pouring the wonderful words from your fingertips to the page. Virtual or otherwise.

But the reality can be very different.

I have a muse, of sorts, but not a very pracitcal one. His inconsistency is astounding. I won’t hear from him for days or even weeks and then suddenly, like an unwanted suitor, he is all over me like a rash, nattering day and night into my ear. I’ll be in the middle of doing some task that can’t be ignored, like driving the car, and his voice will suddenly start, forcing me to pull over and grab a pen and paper before he stops talking. Which he often does. Or I’ll be on the phone, having a lovely conversation with someone dear to me and he’ll rudely butt in like an unwanted extra on a party-line, causing me to become vague and distant as I try to listen to two people at once. I’ll make my silly sounding excuses to the human on the other end and hang up, all lathered and panting, ready to start writing and dammit all, the muse will hang up on me. His number is, of course, unlisted.

He is also stunningly inconsiderate. After being awol for weeks, he’ll wake me up in the night, always at a most un-godly hour  and scream something into my befuddled ear. I try to just roll over and go back to sleep, but he’s a persistant bugger and generally refuses to be ignored. “Now!” he shouts. “Write this now! No time to lose! I won’t be back tomorrow! No, you won’t remember by yourself!” I thrash and flail, but he just keeps on, destroying any hope of sleep until I get up and obey. I sneak on tiptoes past my sleeping partner, hoping like hell that he won’t wake and wonder just what the hell I’m doing at the computer in the middle of the night, to sit bleary-eyed at the machine and bang away until such time as the muse decides it’s time for a rest. He, lucky bugger, goes back to sleep again, happily off in the land of nod, while I return to bed, freezing my little butt off, to lie awake for hours, wondering just where the story is going to go next.

But sometimes – just occasionally – he is wonderful.

Sometimes he visits when I am alone in the house, when the day is silent and still, when there are no distractions of other people’s needs or pressing tasks to get in between where my head wants to be and where my body is. Then, his voice is a soothing whisper. He sits just behind my right shoulder, his voice clear and calm and warm and gives me the whole story, one that pours out just as fast as I can write it down. The words flow across the pages; silken, smooth and uninterrupted. Those are always the stories and poems that just work, the ones that make the readers go “My God!” or “Wow!” 

They are few and far between, but worth every moment of waiting for.

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3 Responses to “Playing tag with the muse.”

  1. sulz Says:

    isn’t a muse a particular person that inspires you creatively, rather than some abstract spirit? as for inspiration, yes it strikes at the least expected moment. so far i could only blog about something the moment it hits me and i sit down to write it immediately. if i leave it to write later the inspiration is gone. i have deleted many drafts this way already!

  2. smithereens Says:

    I love your post and see only one explanation: maybe we share the same muse, and he’s dog-tired of working two shifts, which would explain why we’re both constantly waiting for him!

  3. matariki Says:

    Sorry to you both for being so tardy in replying, but I’ve been away in a remote location for a few days – no interwebs!

    sulz: I had to go and look it up after reading your comment 🙂 The Collins Eng Dict defines “muse” as “a goddess that inspires a creative artist, esp. a poet.” Note the femaleness! But my muse definitely feels more male…
    But I do believe there are individuals, either living or dead, who can fulfill the same function. They just don’t tend to make such unholy demands on us as spiritual entities.
    And I fully feel for you with the issues of writing when inspired, what/whoever it is that does so. I write away all day in my head at times and not always when I can get to keyboard or pen, but trying to reconstruct a “good idea” at a later stage often results in clumsy, fruitless efforts. That is one thing I’m trying to overcome.

    smithereens: I’d never considered the possibility of a multi-writer muse, but maybe you are right! He must be over your way just now….
    *taps fingers in a waiting state*

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