I have a confession to make.
My Muse is verbally abusive.
I’m not a victim, though, because I created him that way. Yes, him. If creative men throughout the years could become inspired by their vision of a beautiful, ethereal woman hovering over their shoulder as they wrote, painted, composed and otherwise created magnificent things, I don’t see why I can’t have a hot guy hovering over mine. But I actually didn’t create my hot, verbally abusive Muse for the fantasy eye candy factor, anyway. At the time I called him up, I was in desperate need of some male energy in my writing life.
This was more than a decade ago, as I floated through a period of writing dreamy, sensual, surreal fictional sequences that went on forever. I can’t call them stories, because they never ended. Lots of lengthy sentences. Gorgeous descriptions bursting with colors and textures and fragrances. I knew how to write. I could write until the cows came home. But I needed structure. I needed closure. I needed endings.
At the same time, I worked lengthy hours at an architecture firm, the only job I’ve ever had that had absolutely nothing to do with writing. Maybe the fact that I spent a lot of time dealing with contractors—a testosterone-filled bunch if ever I’ve seen one—had some influence on my Muse as he appeared to me.
Desperate to make writing a bigger part of my life, I decided to start getting up at 5 AM to sneak in an hour or two of writing before work.
Did I mention I’m not a morning person?!
Waking at 5 AM when I was already exhausted by a full life and an unfulfilling job proved to be quite a challenge. I needed a cross between a take-no-prisoners drill sergeant and a thoroughly enticing lover to pry me out of bed that early.
That’s when I called on my Muse.
Make no mistake, I created him. But he also came alive and participated in his own creation. I don’t know how anyone else experiences a personal muse, but mine is like a divine artistic guide crossed with an imaginary friend. At any rate, he came to me as I needed him then: seductive, and yes, verbally abusive.
Every morning when my alarm rang at 5 AM, my Muse began yelling in my ear: “Get the #@*% up, Sandy. Do you think your #@*%ing stories are going to write themselves?!?!!”
He wouldn’t let me roll over for five minutes; he yelled and yelled until I jumped up. But once I sat in my favorite writing spot in the living room bay window with a cup of tea and a notebook in my lap, my Muse started purring sweetly in my ear, encouraging the words that flowed from my pen.
And thus began a lengthy and fertile creative period in my life, a time when my writing matured and I finally, happily, mastered endings.
It’s been a long time since those days, and my writing technique has continued to grow and evolve, but my Muse still hangs around. I don’t get up at 5 AM any more, and he doesn’t yell at me any more either. Instead we’ve settled into a comfortable relationship. At times, he’s absent for months. At other times I feel him hovering over my shoulder when I write, and now and then he even shows up in my dreams.
But though he’s still present, my Muse lives primarily above the garage in the back of my mind these days, and I’m realizing now as I consider my desire for sustained creativity in my life that it’s time to allow him a bigger role again. A reinvented role, because I don’t need the drill sergeant now as much as I need the lover.
Okay, maybe I still need a little drill sergeant for those days when I just don’t feel like being creative and I want to hide behind my work and other responsibilities and whine about how I have no time for my soul-writing. But I don’t think I need the yelling any more.
I’m almost sure I don’t need the yelling any more…
Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com