The Muse

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My Greenman tile from artist Dwight Davidson.

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That flighty player, the temptress, the mercurial muse! The harder we try to grasp her, the more out of reach she becomes. We curse her, sigh, throw our pens across the room and make yet another cup of tea (in hopes she will lie in wait at the bottom). We do a crossword, write a letter, do ten jumping jacks and still she won’t appear. But the inability to reach the muse lies in our own misunderstanding. We imagine that suddenly she will swoop down to our shoulder and give us an idea, when in reality the muse springs up from days upon days of hard work. I believe in inspiration, dreaming and epiphanies, but with a caveat. I don’t believe great works of writing appear, or great bouts of inspiration descend, without sitting down and writing, that is, doing the hard labor. Writing is a practice, something we must embark upon day by day even when its hard, and even when what we write will never see the light of day. There are no shortcuts, no real “muse” to do the work for us. The magic of writing is in the dedication, even if you are tired or your feet hurt or you are preoccupied with your new job, you write anyway.

In the last few weeks I’ve truly turned a corner in my writing practice, writing for at least 20 minutes every day (of course I try to write for a few hours if I have enough time). Some of these writings are timed, more like an athlete’s stretch than the winning goal of the game. But this allows some self consciousness to be stripped away. Criticism dissolves when your writing is the result of ten minutes non-stop scribbling across the page. Then it’s time for business, and I work on my longer poetry project and developing my portfolio (some of which I’ll use for graduate school applications – fingers crossed).

In helping me overcome writing challenges I’ve been inspired by a few different writers and artists. I highly recommend Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg, as a guide to writing and an interesting perspective on a writer’s life. If you want to watch an inspiring short video, I recommend author Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk where she talks about the frustration and hard work that comes with creativity and inspiration. I also have been reading Terri Windling’s blog Myth & Moor, where she has several excellent posts about creative processes and self criticism. This is probably my favorite blog out there, I highly recommend it!

I hope everyone finds time this week to follow their own passion, whatever that may be!

The Greenman image is by the artist Dwight Davidson, visit his website here: http://www.davidsonsculpture.com/.
Natalie Goldberg’s book: Goldberg, Natalie. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. New York: Bantam, 1990. Print.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk is here: https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius
Terri Windling can be found at http://www.terriwindling.com/blog/. Her posts on creative processes are here: http://www.terriwindling.com/creative-process/.

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Reinvigorated

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A red-tailed hawk at the botanic gardens.

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It’s been far too long since my last post! I had so many pictures to sort through I fear the photographs today are a bit of a spring whirlwind. Many are from Kevin and my frequent trips to the Botanic Gardens (you can see the Victorian glasshouse in the background of the first “checkered lily” photo), and some are from daily walks around the neighborhood. We’ve been enjoying magnolia trees (my mom’s special tree), apple blossoms, and PELICANS in the park.

A few weeks ago, my dad and I were walking and we found an absolutely lovely temporary art piece. Stones and seed pods had been decorated and painted and were arranged in a ring around some benches. They all shared positive messages about love, kindness, and hope. We walked around admiring the beautiful designs and the silly pea-pod and pepper. When I returned to the same spot the next day, they were all gone! I feel so happy we stumbled across that little moment of magic when we did.

As the spring blossoms here in Colorado, I feel reinvigorated and excited about my creative pursuits. It’s definitely been a hard year for me creatively, and I finally feel like I have the ground beneath my feet. I’ve been trying to work more on poetry and finding discipline and space in which to write. With a mug of tea in hand (always an indispensable part of any creative pursuit) I settle down at my desk and see where the muse takes me. I’ve been trying to call out my “boggarts” – fears and doubts that nag at me while I’m writing. I’ll name them: fear of failure (failure to complete something, failure to get published, failure to be successful), fear of judgement (what if everyone hates what I write?!), fear of mediocrity, and the kind of unattainable personal standard that places a fledgling draft of a poem next to my own polished work or even next to that of a famous poet. What are all these boggarts doing in my head? And when on earth did they sneak in? Now at least I’ve called them all out by name. This is my first step to a reinvented creative process, acknowledging that I do struggle with these questions many writers face, and letting them go. I’m also working on creating a “writing routine” so it’s easier to slip into a creative space. I’m starting with tea and something inspirational to read, and seeing where that takes me.

I’ll be out of town for a few days, back soon in time to celebrate Easter!

To close: a lovely song performed by Anna & Elizabeth.
Wishing you all strength and insight in the coming week!