I cannot remember ever waking without wanting to write, but after the exhaustive futility of a day job that consumed every waking hour, writing took a backseat to reality. As a result, for years my writing was on life support, but thanks in no small part to a vigilant muse, it remained my way of breathing. With the rise of each new morning my muse greeted me with hope and excitement, but each night she fell asleep against me devastated and defeated. Why she stayed with me as long as she did I will never know, but morning after morning, year after year, she was there for me. I woke each morning to her soft whispers, and empowered by her I made it through another day with the hope that at day’s end we would finally sit down together and visit places yet to be imagined. Over the years, from time to time we flirted with what she called the sculptor’s pen where madmen taste the immortality of ink on paper, but there was no constancy. Such was our relationship until December past she came to me weak and frail, tugging softly, pleading with me. Once again I ignored her, and if I was a romantic I would write how Sunday morning she left me, a tear sliding down her cheek, catching in the crevice of her soft censored lips. It wasn’t like that though; she was simply gone, and my breath gone with her.
The first morning that I realized she was gone I merely shrugged knowing she would be back. The second morning without her whispers of hope and encouragement I grew concerned. When I woke to silence the third morning, I cried, but I did not cry for lost journeys that might have been, I wept for the lost comfort of her voice. Instead of writing being my sword rallying me through life, the quite delicate strands of her voice had become the strength I needed to face each new day. Without her a void entered my life that could not be filled. I was paralyzed without her. I don’t mean that I could not write, but rather I had no desire to write. The words were there, but not the motivation. I went into grieving, but I grieved not for my writing but for my muse. I did not miss writing; I missed her and our dreams of writing. I was in love with my muse and the idea of writing, and not with writing. I am sure that is what finally scared her away. She was shattered, ashamed, and saddened to know she had grown between me and my writing – that she had become a crutch for me rather than an inspiration.
Although I did not realize it until later and even then at first I refused to believe it, a crutch is exactly what my muse had become for me. She had become my security blanket, a unique comfort that instead of inspiring me hobbled me. As long as she was with me, I had no reason to write; I found truth, comfort, and sense of accomplishment in her and not in writing. I was smitten with the air of renewal she brought to me each morning. Her voice was so sweet, pure, and encouraging, that without realizing it, I had grown afraid that writing might somehow actually silence her. If I was writing, there would be no need for her comforting presence, and if not needed she would find someone who did need her. Irrational? Delusional? Aren’t all writers at least a bit irrational and even delusional? I had become dependent on her for the wrong reasons, and over time, she came to realize that, so she left.
It must have broken her heart to think that my foolish dependence on her had become my substitute for writing. Somehow, through no fault of hers, though no one could have ever convinced her of that, I had twisted our relationship into something that screwed with the very fabric of decency and order. As a result, I was distraught, and for days, I lay still in my bed listening to the silence of the morning. Then something happened as irrational as my love affair with my muse, I started to write!
I felt compelled to write, good or bad. It did not matter as long as I put it on paper. I used too many adverbs, but I wanted to! Sometimes I labored over a single word and sometimes I said to hell with it. I began to realize that to really become a writer I had to write for myself and tell the world to shuck off. My main goal became to find a topic and do my best to make it interesting, to make it so succinct that it would suck the reader into believing anything and everything I had to say. The peace I found in the voice of my muse I began to find in my writing. I fell in love not with my words but with the right words coming together to tell a story that kindled an epiphany, an “ah hah” moment, or that metaphoric light bulb that flashes every now and again in someone’s head.
I suddenly had plenty to write about. There was nothing that I could not spin whether superbly or poorly. School, politics, rubber monkeys, or even zombies would dance under my pen. The writer’s block I sometimes whined about to my muse was vanquished giving credence to her notion that writer’s block was for block heads and the dead. “There is always something to write about,” she would say, “if you know where to look.” My writing became seeded by my experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and dreams, or as my muse once told me, “All writing is fueled by the writer’s truth.” I even came to grips with the writer’s truth, my truth, not fitting the palette of all readers. However, the turning point came when I realized that regardless if a writer is a philosopher, moralist, or a liar, his intent is always to meet the needs of the writer first and the reader by chance. Anything else is contrived and a damn lie.
As a result of my resurgent writing, I believe my muse would be proud of me. Not necessarily of what or how I write, but that I am writing. She is still not speaking to me, but if she is waiting for my feelings for her to subside before she speaks, I fear I may never hear her voice again. However, maybe it is her voice I hear when I sit down to write. I would like to think so. Through writing, I can finally breathe again, and for that and for setting me free, I must thank her, my muse, wherever she might be.
©Jack Linton, April 6, 2014