Tuesday, January 1, 2008


So, you really want to know, huh? Okay, I'll tell you.

I did it. That's right.

I killed my Muse.

You've heard of her. One of a bunch of Greek goddesses who bring artistic inspiration to men. If she happens to traipse around while you're laboring over your work, she might smile and grant you a really killer turn of phrase or a crucial thematic revelation. I used to wait on her a lot, but she was a flighty thing, always flitting off to see all sorts of other fellows. The moments when she showed up were wonderful, truth be told, dizzying times with ideas bursting out of me like water from a hydrant. Then she would invariably leave, and there would be long stretches of nothing, cracked and dry and fallow.

This could have gone on forever, but it didn't. At the end of my senior year of college, I took a creative writing class, and about the time the work really started to pile on I got a call. There was an opening for an entertainment journalist at a magazine in Colorado, and the editors were interested in me--if I could produce some writing samples for them. Sure, I said, no problem, I'll send them next week. I didn't tell them of all the other writing assignments I already had. I went back to my dorm room, booted up my computer and waited for her. The hours turned over with nothing to show for them except a quickly erased sentence or two.

She wasn't going to show. I knew it at some cellular level. She'd left me out to dry.

I looked at the mockingly blank screen and wanted to weep. But instead I bent my head, put my hands to the keyboard and started to type. Gibberish at first, stuff like I'm just moving my hands around with no idea of what I'm doing and Man, I could really go for some waffles right now and There once was a man from Nantucket / Whose head was shaped like a bucket.

Then it changed. Something ... happened.

An outline materialized in my head. Transitions started appearing. I had a kicky closing sentence. It was tough, like digging through a cement wall with a spoon, but it was happening, and my muse was nowhere in sight. I'd done it all myself.

Over the weekend, I wrapped up my projects and began making preparations. You have to understand. She'd led me on all these years, kept me servile and dependent. She had it coming. You can dredge as many canals as you'd like, lead your bloodhounds through the forest. You won't find her. I made sure of that.

Before you make that call and I get all Mirandaed up, let me tell you something. There are eight more Muses out there, convincing others that they need them, that they can't work without them.

You know what you should do.

Oh, one more thing before you go.

Happy New Year ...


Amy said...

This is so strangely inspiring - I have been missing my muse (we will call her, plainly, inspiration) and been unable to compose anything satisfying - even silly little blogs - of late. But I think you're right. I think I'm just being lazy, and I need to get to work.

Loren Eaton said...

I don't think it's laziness, exactly. I had a professor at school who honestly believed that you needed to go through the mechanics of writing when you felt stuck - just moving your hand across the page until the ideas start coming back. (Or typing, too, I suppose.) I never write anything without feeling stuck at least once.