John Hardy Bell
Where is She Hiding?
Every writer dreams of her. Every writer covets her. Every writer flirts with her. And the really fortunate ones have spent significant time with her. She takes on a different form for each of us, yet her beauty is universally recognized. She is the muse - the infinite source of creativity trough which all magical things are possible. For many she is a myth, like the Tooth Fairy or Sasquatch. But for us true believers - the ones who toil in front of the keyboard day after day with oftentimes little more to show for it than a blinking cursor - we know she is out there, waiting until we reach our breaking point, waiting until we believe that we have no other course of action but to give up on this silly notion of writing. It's then that she suddenly makes herself known. Sometimes it's a whisper or a tap on the shoulder - a single idea or line of dialogue that seemingly comes out of nowhere but puts us completely back on track. Sometimes, when we're really lucky, she shouts at us - bringing us a character or story line or the simple confidence to know that sitting in front of that keyboard is not the colossal waste of time we imagined it to be.
I sometimes go months without a visit from her. It's during those times of longing that I stop and wonder: "Where the hell is she? And why does she come to me only so sparingly when her impact is so powerful?" I get to the point where I think I can't write without her. So I stop trying. I wait and I wait and I wait. I re-arrange the icons on my iPad, I take an extra trip to the Kuerig, I reply to my spam emails - anything to pass the time until she graces me with her presence once again. Before I know it, weeks pass. I turn on my computer and still see only that blinking cursor.
The ever-elusive Muse
Then I have the epiphany that I've had dozens of times over: "She comes only on her terms, dude! There's nothing you can do to make her appear, no matter how much you need her! So instead of wasting away, pining after her, get your ass in a chair, turn on the computer, and WRITE! Write anything, even if it's your name 500 times. Just write!!'"Usually that's all that's all it takes to reclaim my focus. Suddenly the thoughts crystallize, the ideas come and the confidence returns. I'm a writer once again and it feels damn good.
But then something happens - I feel that familiar feeling: a slight gust of wind, a nudge on my shoulder or that tickle on my ear. And I know she's there.
Funny thing is, she never really left.
Your thoughts on 'The Muse' may be completely different from mine. For you 'she' may be a 'he'. For some the concept is idiotic and completely without merit. "It's about sitting down and doing the work, not getting sprinkled with friggin' fairy dust!". Some are not sure either way.
I'd love to know you think. And Muse or no Muse, for God sake keep writing!