I was talking to KR this morning and she proclaimed — my muse is defective.
Let me back up, we were talking about writing. Since we were able to hold a pen without thinking that we could chew on it and get equal enjoyment, we have written. Oh the tales our journals hold! Not written because we believed we would be the next Anais Nin but because it was a way to get out of our head, make sense of the garble churning in our analytical brains. I think it is safe to say that we both wrote to stay sane. Looking back, we now know that we have not written consistently — that our output over the past (yes) 20 years has been sporadic, though our understanding of its importance has not.
Hence – the proclamation about the damn muse. Why can’t we write all the time? Why does it ebb and flow? Why can’t the muse get it together and inspire us to execute some literary therapy?
After further contemplation, if you believe in the muse concept (that there is a spirit helping to inspire you in your endeavours), I don’t believe that we can blame her. I have to say that lack of inspiration might have more to do with us than the twirling blonde in roller skates ala Xanadu.
We expect our muse to manifest herself the same way, every day, for years on end. And although, strictly speaking there are 9 muses, each tasked with individual areas of expertise like art, dance or music, I think that we are granted our own muse who doesn’t have those delineations. Perhaps a muse that has many talents just like we do?
The point here is that though you may be an artist, you might not be an artist right now, and that’s okay. Perhaps, right now, you are a writer and you just don’t realize it.
Case in point: James Franco. How many disparate projects has he gotten himself into? Academy award-winning movies, soap operas, art, photography. He’s all over the place and the media has been quick to point out his eccentric behaviour. In the past, ballet training in mind, I might have said — spread that thin you can’t really excel at anything — focus focus focus. Now, however, I would disagree. The more types of projects I work on, the better my creative problem solving skills become, which makes me a better thinker, which makes a better “creator” at whatever I decide to do.
I believe I am a better writer because I have tried to create art. And I believe my art is better by way of my honed literary skills. It’s that simple.
Another way, when I studied ballet, my teachers always reminded me of something: in your dance career you have two ladders to climb — technical proficiency and artistic expression and that you will never climb them both at the same time or ease. So when you have worked for two months on nailing 3 pirouettes, you just might not be able to take it to 4. At least not right then. Being frustrated by that and not having the maturity to develop another part of your technique is a mistake.
And so, when we expect inspiration to only speak to us in one particular way, we are discounting the other multitudes of ways that we engage in the world. When inspiration does not seem immediate, why not look for it elsewhere?
As I have gotten older, I have noticed that as people become more established and successful, their ability to move outside those pockets of expertise is difficult. If I am a good writer, why would I try to execute something else when I have no experience and will look like an idiot?
There is a fantasy that we are born with one specific talent. “She was born to be a writer,” for example. Yet common sense tells us that it’s simply not the case. We are daughters, wives, mothers, professionals, friends. How could one mode of expression account for all of these nuances? How could we be just one thing?
So for today, I ask that you take a moment of silence to try to talk to your muse but for heaven’s sake, don’t be mad at her! Try to listen to what she would like you to try, no matter how silly or difficult it is. Odds are, whatever that is, it will help you be better at what you practice doing everyday.
My muse? She says I should try swimming in the ocean while I’m in Florida next month. Yes, even though it scares me. Yes, even though GAD will try so hard to make me feel comfortable that I will probably be slightly uncomfortable. Yes, even though the thought of putting my head underwater and failing to put my feet on the ground makes me want to vomit and pass out. However, if I listen carefully, she reminds me that water makes me feel peaceful and that if I require a bath every night before I go to bed, I should indulge in the largest bathtub in the world. Perhaps it can make me feel peaceful, as well.