Just Drive (or How To Live With Your Muse)

by D. D. Falvo on December 17, 2016 | @ddfalvo

A writer’s muse can be many things, but he, she, or it is not to be taken for granted. Today I’m bringing home a guest post about mine that I wrote two years ago for Hugs & Chocolate. While the team at Hugs & Chocolate is no longer posting new content, their site still maintains an abundance of essays on the craft of writing. Definitely worth a look-see.

 

In the background plays Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by The Police . . .

Computer charged? Check. Writing program updated? Check. Note pads, pens, warm body in chair? Check. Muse?  . . . Muse?  . . . Ah, hell. Where is the Muse?

Though I’ve tried before to (write it)

Of the feelings I have  . . . in my heart

Every time that I come near . . .

I just lose my nerve as I’ve done from the start”  

The day yawns ahead, hours to write words—new words, not revisions—that will finally forward my work-in-progress. Today, time is literally on my side, but ah, erm, the Muse isn’t.

Okay, well, fine. Shoulders back, deep breath. I can do this. I reposition my keyboard, swipe an imaginary speck from the monitor, and refrain from checking emails. I straighten my collection of note pads and pick up my pen. Clickit-clickit-clickit. I fidget with the plunger, watching the ballpoint thrust, retract, and repeat, then I sigh and write a shopping list for dinner.

There. I draw a box around the list to remind me this is a real life note. Burdens are lifted. Time to push through. The mind is now open (for business). I’m ready! I look to my screen; the curser winks from the blank page. I frown. Is it . . . taunting me? I write three sentences and reject them all. I rewrite the same first sentence and spin it five different ways. Blech. 2 hours wasted. I move the keyboard aside and bang my head on the desk. I can’t do this alone. I need my muse.

But my silent fears have gripped 

Long before I reach the (pen)

Long before my tongue has tripped me

Must I always be alone?

For most writers, summoning the muse on demand is an act of futility. Mine manifests in several versions, my favorite is the elusive purple dragon named Zebedee. Zeb (for short) is a willful, easily distracted, adventure seeking, magical being. On his spiny back, my imagination soars.

And today he’s a no show. #LazyMuse. I grab my shopping list and head for the car. May as well get something productive done. As I travel across town, my consciousness is occupied with the drive, a mundane task I settle into with ease. The road rolls out before me, the traffic hums, and my tangled spirit unwinds. I sigh, exhaling the morning’s angst, then inhale the sugary/tart scent of grape Koolaid that is Zeb’s particular aroma.

“I like the way the snow drifts,” he says from the passenger seat. His eyes whirl like multi-colored pinwheels on a summer day. “You know that scene you were working on? I think you should try this . . .” he says, then spouts the most perfect opening line—and that is the beauty of the muse. Because even though we think they aren’t listening while we struggle for solutions or perfect phrasing, they are. (See Lara Schiffbauer’s incredible post on How Your Intuition Works.)

Every little thing (Zeb) does is magic. 

The intuition process is magic—even if it isn’t always timely. The muse has absolutely no appropriate sense of time.

“Now? You show up now when I can’t write anything down?” I pray for a red light and begin multi-tasking—one hand grips the wheel while the other gropes blindly in my purse. His golden words become a mantra on my tongue, and my inner voice frets—Don’t forget. Don’t forget. Where the hell is that mini-recorder? Don’t forget. 

“It was too crowded before,” Zeb complains. “When you weren’t thinking about house chores, you were trying to tell me what to do again. You know I don’t like that. Besides, I always enjoy an open road.” He dug in the center console between the seats. “I’m hungry. You got any cat treats in here?”

“Um, a half-eaten a protein bar—maybe.” I stop at a red light, locate my recorder, and begin chattering at it like a cop on a blown stake-out.

Zeb’s spikes droop. The magic of sudden inspiration slips sideways. I hit pause and set the recorder down. You never, never upset/ignore the muse, or they go away—besides I like Zeb.

“Fine. I’ll take you for . . .” I look around for ideas for which to bribe the petulant dragon.

“Culver’s flavor of the day is Kit Kat Swirl,” he offers, perking up.

An inelegant snort escapes my lips. “Forget it—that was a disaster last time. You melted all of the ice cream in the store, and the little kids cried until you gave them rides.” Who can be sad over ice cream when you’re sailing on the back of a dragon?

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Zeb began drooping again. “I’ll buy you popcorn kernels at the store,”  I said, — the — with an instant decision. I also resolve to keep cat treats in the car—though, watching him eat the kernels is fun. They pop on his tongue and he giggles (a dragon’s palate is very ticklish.) Have you ever heard a muse giggle? Close your eyes and imagine the chiming of silvered raindrops on a crystal xylophone. My muse’s laughter evokes the music in my soul. Want to find the coveted writing zone? Have fun with your muse.

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Zeb counter-negotiates. “Can I roll the window down?”

“It’s seven degrees!”

He opens his mouth and huffs. The car becomes an instant sauna.

Every little thing (Zeb) does

“Fine! Fine. But you are going to give me some good stuff to write after all this.”

“Of course. All you had to do was ask,” he replies.

The car behind us honks and I jump. The light is green and the other lanes have begun moving ahead. Zeb chuckles and I reward him a disapproving glare.

“Just drive,” he snickers, then sticks his head into the wind. I focus on the road.

Open road. Open mind. I am at peace and, with that, ideas flow like an open tap. I sneak a look at Zeb, his eyes are half-mast, his long, pink tongue dangles from his wide, crocodilian smile. My muse is happiest with simple pleasures. And if he’s happy, so am I.

Every little thing, every little thing,

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Magic, magic, magic, magic, magic

What are the roadblocks to your creativity? How do you overcome them?

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