And now...My Own Muse Talks Back...(And She's Overworked, Underappreciated, and Pissed-off. How Fitting.)

Posted by maria nazod on Saturday, November 21, 2009
And so. Hopefully you've watched the clip of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love giving an inspirational talk about nurturing creativity as posted in my last blog entry.

 Now, I need to tell you. 

In light of my own recent inability to write, a funny thing happened. As per Gilbert discusses, it is essential (in order to remain semi-sober and sane, sans a smoldering gun barrel poking from your mouth), to your creativity as a writer to view your muse a source of inspiration separately from you. And she's right. 

My favorite poet, Joe Bolton, a brilliant, tortured young man from Cadiz Kentucky, was one of the best contemporary poets who has ever written in the English language. Likely you've not heard of him (and you need to, check him out, that is and become richer for it), if only because he took his own life at twenty-eight. My age. And light years ahead of me in his genuis. But, as Gilbert talks about, brilliant writers die, often at their own hands, because so much is placed emphatically upon them in the form of pressure to create, and to create brilliantly. Sadly, with Bolton's untimely suicide, hardly anybody has heard of him. Unsurprisingly so. As I heard Martin Espada once say, "the poems usually die with the poet."

How this relates to me, in regards to my own and sudden creative blockage? 

Well. This morning I rose, pretty much knowing that the poems would not come, but somehow with less of the heavy a feeling I've carried around with me the past couple days: similar to that of lugging a backpack full of bricks around with me. I wasn't sure why, but was nonetheless grateful for the weightlessness of it. 

I sat down to do my morning journal for twenty minutes, as I always do, and was shocked at what came out. For the first time, ever, in my life, my creative muse emerged to speak to me. And boy, is she pissed. What I found interesting, was once I sat down this morning, not expecting to write anything worthy of a Pushcart, once I sat down and checked in with my body, with my muse, and became of it, rather than in it, once I regarded my own source of inspiration as disparate of myself, and quit browbeating myself for not producing? 

Here is what she said, literally, right in the middle of my morning, stream-of-conscious journal entry:

(Here's me writing. I'll let you know when the Pissed-off Muse enters.) "I guess it is my job to accept these feelings [of not writing], to let go, to trust them. Just like the I-Ching says: "darkness has temporarily enveloped the light and the Creative is present in the background."
Well, that's no euphemism, no figure of speech, maybe it is present in the I awoke feeling like, inside me there's this pot on my internal stove. And it's simmering and at any point it could erupt into boil. But maybe it won't maybe it wants to simmer for a long, long time until it chooses to start cooking...maybe it's like a pot put to simmer, and in the background, the Muse is a little kid, hiding in the front closet, refusing to come out and turn up the heat. Maybe it's resistant and pissed-off."

(Okay, now here is where my Pissed-off, Estranged Muse enters my hands while writing. I'm not kidding. She grabbed the damned pen.) Will you give me that? ( She grabs my pen.) 

Enough of your flimsy metaphors. Sheesh. I leave you alone for three days and you break down without me. Listen. I'm going to say this once to you, lady, and once only, OK? You're damn right I've locked myself in the closet, and not as a trite expression of my repressed sexuality, either. It's to get away from you! I'm serious! You're a pain-in-the-ass. Work, work, work, that's all you ever want me to do. And do you ever thank me? Do you ever give me a weekend off. No! 

So, guess what, I'm taking one myself. That's right. Muse. Has. Left. The building! I work for you for free (don't think for one second that anyone pays me), and you think it's EASY to write spectacular poems for free? You think I'm obligated to serve you consistently. Ha! This, lady, is my vacation, too, okay? So you'd better cut me some slack here. Otherwise, I'm warning you, we're going to kill each other. And seeing as you're single, aside from me, and even if you weren't, I am your primary relationship that you have! And you aren't the only one in this relationship who is aloud to be grouchy, pissed-off, and tired. 

I mean, really. Have you no gratitude? Not even after these past couple months I helped produce all those poems? You need to start treating me better. Take me for long walks, for goddsakes. Take me for coffee. Give me good food and books. Take me out for drinks. 

Most of all, QUIT ASKING ME, "When's the work gonna come back? When's the work gonna come back?" I don't know. Okay? So, leave me alone. I need a vacation and for the past eight months, since you decided you wanted me full-time, I've been at your beck and call and I'm TIRED of it. You weren't gonna give me a break so I TOOK ONE MYSELF. Hell, I even worked for you while you were on vacation: Cuba, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Who do you think was writing that one new poem per day in Martin Espada's workshop--two of which have already been published, I might add.

 It wasn't just you! And yet, you got all the credit. Did it ever occur to you that I wanted to enjoy Havana, that I wanted to enjoy the Floridian, five-star hotel? No. You take me everywhere, then you sit me at your laptop without a thank you. You know who you remind me of? That asshole boss of yours from the coffeeshop who'd make you work weekends, sometimes without a shift break, and then would bitch at you for leaving a milk container out. It was I who nursed you through a recent breakup, who gave you poems to write. It was I who helped you to produce some of the best work you've written--NOT YOU. ME. 

(At this point, you can imagine, I'm a little hurt. This is probably the least articulate I've ever been, while in an argument with a person whom I have a relationship with. And let me tell you, it ain't easy to shut me up. But I'm going, OK, Pissed-off Muse, you've got a point.) 

Well, I'm not done yet. I've been quiet this whole time. But even Muses get a break. If we're going to work, then we need to work together. If we're going to have a relationship as creative colleagues, then you need to compromise. Don't expect me to pull all your weight. Take me for a walk in the country. Take me for a drink, but not out all night. On top of everything, you expect me to engage socially, then you take credit for my panache and charm, well, I don't feel like being social either. Read me some good books. 

And please, shut up. 

Stop asking me
when's the poem gonna come, when's the poem gonna come. You wanted me to talk to you and I'm talking. Only you expected me to churn up another faithful poem. Well. I'm not. I need to retreat, sit and reflect until further notice. 

(With that, Pissed-off Muse sits back in the swivel chair, careful to move her tail out from under her. Takes a long, noisy slurp from a coffee mug that smells suspiciously like bourbon. Puts her feet up on the desk. Reclines back into her folded arms. She's wearing a Haiwaiian shirt. 

I'm disappointed, because this is SO not what I wanted to hear. But, I have a feeling that for every word I say from hereon, and from this time forward, will buy me another week of writer's block. Yep, as I write this, she's nodding. Taking another sip of Irish coffee. Points her middle finger towards the sun. 

And so. I stop. I put the pen down.)  


Tags: joebolton  writer'sblock  marianazos  palmbeachpoetryfestival 


About Me

Maria Nazos I'm a poet, I just wrote my first book, and I believe in destiny but I sure as hell don't wait for it. Check out my blog for my random thoughts, events, and upcoming workshops.