Sunday, February 21, 2016

how to bribe your muse

I get the distinct impression my muse is upset with me. Usually, it's the other way around. Usually, I'm the one ranting and raving because she hasn't shown up for awhile, or she refuses to answer when I call for help.

Lately though, she has been showing signs of irritability. Why, just last night I heard her complaining to the boys in the know--the ones who send up the good dialogue when you least expect it.

It seems I've been assigning her tasks she doesn't enjoy--long, reflective journal entries, and a couple of talks I have to give at an upcoming retreat.

I think she's trying to tell me she wants to get back to storytelling. Every so often she gives me a little nudge--an opening line or an abbreviated plot line. She tags along with me when I walk so I have to stop and take notes every so often. And, she's been waking me up at night, too.

So, today I made a deal with her. She agreed to stop nagging me until I can clear my schedule a bit. She said she'd help me get those short stories revised if I would agree to give the next novel some thought. She promised to stick around for it, but I don't trust her. It would be just like her to wander off again the minute I start writing.

Then I have to coax her back. Sometimes, she accepts bribes. Dark chocolate and good red wine usually work. But mostly, she just likes to hear a good story.

Does your muse ever nag you to get to work on something different? How do you get her to stick around once you start? Or don't you believe in her at all?

"Fool," said my muse to me.
"Look in thy heart and write."
~Philip Sidney~

Monday, February 15, 2016

how to do what you like and like what you do

The recent surge in the popularity of adult coloring books reminded me that the fruits of creativity are available to all of us, whether we like to paint or write or sing or dance. Whether we're good at it, or not. There are plenty of ways to pursue the pure pleasure of creating art for art's sake...for the pure joy of the process.

So...if you like to color, sit down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, or a bottle of beer, and color. Don't think for a minute it isn't a worthy pastime. Don't fret because you can't get your masterpiece into a gallery. Don't worry because no one is going to buy it. Put some music on, pick your favorite colors, and start filling in the blanks.

If you like to sing but don't have a band to back you up, or you fail to make the choir...sing in the shower, or turn up the radio and belt it out in the car.

If you enjoy writing, but you can't find a publisher, keep a journal. A lot of journals. Title them. Have some fun. "People I could live without right now..." or "If I had the money..." Personally, my favorite journal is titled: "If I had to be completely honest..."

If you like to dance but you never took lessons, put some music on and show the dog what you can do. Better yet...go take a class.

Do it for the fun of it. Turn off the TV, put your phone away, and shut down your laptop. There! See? You DO have time for this! Your brain will thank you for it. Your muse will cheer for you. Your soul will applaud your first faltering efforts.

Whatever you do, don't alter a word of your story, a stroke of your brush, or a step of your dance in deference to the critics who (whether they admit it or not) envy you for doing what they may not have the courage to do themselves.

Go ahead. Take a bow. You've earned it.
Besides writing, this is what makes me happy:

10 months