Sunday, January 30, 2011

reviving the muse

When I returned from the Writer’s Digest Conference last weekend, my mind was spinning. Visions of Kindles and Nooks danced in my head. I learned a lot while I was away but two things stood out. First, I need to gain some expertise with (dreaded) social networking in order to build a platform for my writing if I ever hope to gain an audience. Second, my lifelong dream--to see my book in print on a bookstore shelf--vaporized, done in by the latest trends in self-publishing and e-publishing. Needless to say I found that little revelation to be neither comforting nor inspiring. In fact, I found it downright discouraging…

…so discouraging that I couldn’t focus at all on writing for a couple of days. At first I assumed that I was just played out. Or, I thought, perhaps it was a case of the blues, something I rarely experience. But after three or four days, I started to worry. I was wasting precious time. My mind felt as though it were paralyzed…numb…blank. Something needed to be done! I had to revive the muse!

If this has ever happened to you, you might like to read what Pema Chodron has to say from a Buddhist perspective in her books, “When Things Fall Apart” (which they did for me) and “Start Where You Are” (which is what I’m doing now).

So…I picked up my pen. I opened my journal and started in where I left off almost a month ago. Ah-h-h! It felt good to be writing again…without an agenda or a prompt or a destination. Without worrying about agents or editors or publishers.

I also started to read and, as I am compelled to do, to underline all the “Gee, I wish I’d written that” lines and passages that I will refer back to over and over again for the pure pleasure of it. I looked up the meaning of a couple of unfamiliar but enviable words. I felt the color coming back into my cheeks. A smile tugged at my lips. And here I am--at eleven o'clock on a Sunday evening fully engaged in writing…energized…and happy.

Given her fair share of rest and solitude and freedom, the muse is recuperating nicely, thank you very much.

What will it take for your muse to recover?
“The moment we indulge our affections, the earth is metamorphosed;
there is no winter and no night; all tragedies, all ennuis, vanish—
all duties even.”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson--
In my next post I’ll tell you who taught me the most in NYC.

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