Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I am not in a codependent relationship with my muse. 

I saw a Ted talk in which Elizabeth Gilbert (who wrote Eat, Pray, Love -- the Little House on the Prairie star is Melissa Gilbert -- yes, I want to mix them up in my mind, too) described the creative process from the points of view of several writers, herself included.  The talk depressed me because it was so obvious from her delivery that Gilbert was completely freaked out that her muse would leave her and never return.  She told the story of one writer who likens her muse to a huge storm that comes upon you when you are hiking on a moor.  You have to run fast so that you can avoid the storm and get inside (in other words, get as fast as you can to a keyboard) before it rains on you (before the muse decides you're not worth the effort and hightails it on out of your mind).  Gilbert was almost out of breath as she described this feeling; it was like watching a very insecure woman venting to her girlfriends about the particularly narcissistic and fickle lover with whom she was irredeemably smitten.  Reader, it was not pretty. 

I, however, have no such fear that my muse will abandon me.  Sometimes my muse arrives when I am cooking and there is water boiling.  I just have to say, "Muse, I just don't have even a second."  Sometimes she replies with an, "Okay.  Do you mind if I hang out over there with a magazine until you finish?"  Other times she gets haughty and leaves with her nose in the air.  "Well, if you don't have time for me then I'll just go find another writer to inspire."  Imagine her a self-important neighbor like Phyllis on the Mary Tyler Moore Show (Cloris Leachman -- I don't get her mixed up with anybody -- she's one of a kind). 

I just don't do the drama with my muse.  There's no thunder and lightning.  There's no sturm und drang.  There's no despair when I forget the Xanadu of my imagination when the postman comes to the door.  She tries to engage me but I can say to her, with courage, "Hey, I don't always have to be there for you.  I've got a job.  I've got friends.  I have a life of my own.  And I know who you are."