Saturday, April 3
The Prodigal Muse Returns
I was one of the blessed ones born and raised with a Muse. I’ve been a writer all my life, probably since the day I could read and write my first words. Making up stories and poems came naturally to me, and in my egocentric youth, I assumed everyone indulged in writing for their own personal pleasure. It was a shocking revelation when I found out otherwise.
Oh, I knew there were those who didn’t like writing assignments and essays for school, but I thought everyone who could write had some kind of hidden diary or journal of some sort. Then I met those who admitted an aversion to writing in any form beyond their signature, and some said even that was pushing it. I suppose they never had their own Muse sitting at their shoulder or maybe they had one after all, but it just specialized in something other than writing.
If everyone’s Muse is different, then I suppose mine is like a well. Sometimes the well is empty, and I’m on my own with my writing. Other times the well overflows and it becomes a strange ethereal voice that takes over, almost without my direction. I’m not sure that I’ve ever experienced an in-between. My Muse is either flooding out or not there at all.
My Muse mysteriously disappeared when I was half-way into my second year of college. And the worst part is I didn’t even miss it at the time. I was too busy to notice its absence. I worked on my college newspaper as the copy editor and then editor-in-chief. That’s where I burned out. Not just a little, but burned out big time. I ended up leaving college. I stopped reading, and I stopped writing.
Thirteen years later (no kidding; absolutely nothing happened literarily during those years), I picked up a book again. And then I read it. It wasn’t for work, but just to pass the time. Once I finished, I had more time to fill, so I read another book and another and another. After a few months, I’d reclaimed my book-a-day habit until I’d read everything I could get my hands on.
I began to unconsciously critique the books I read. And then I talked about some of them at length with my coworkers. We discussed what they’d want to see in a book. Soon, I began to write entire novels in the span of a dream. The stories were in my head when I woke up, but still I didn’t write them down. Finally, I awoke to write one page, and then the next thing I knew, I’d written a fairly polished, novel-length manuscript in less than a month. It may not be in the genre I am normally accustomed to writing, but it’s impressive nevertheless.
My Muse brings me joy daily, and I love having it back again. Now that I do have it back, I realize there was no sneaky vanishing act because it never really left me. I was the one to abandon the Muse. Knowing this, I do what will avoid the literary black hole I used to live in. I write, write, write, and when I’m not doing that, I read, read, read. But only what makes me happy. It’s my own personal art fed by my own, ever-present Muse, the well that could raise the dead.