Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I had to run away

My friend Jody went to New York for a week to meet her agent and editors, which left her house unoccupied. So I broke in. Not really, she left a key and needed someone to check on the cat, but I informed her I was spending the night.She has this big old farm house out in the country, surrounded by vineyards, complete with a claw-foot tub. It embodies my idea of heaven; a place to write all day, then take a long hot bath.

I told my husband and child I was running away from home on Saturday and wouldn't be back until Sunday noon. My husband was supportive, but my daughter immediately began whining about my leaving and demanded to know EXACTLY when I'd be back. She's 12 and has become extremely clingy as she starts puberty. I told her I needed to get some writing work done, which was half of the truth. The real reason was that my Muse had abandoned me and I hoped a claw foot tub full of hot water and bubbles would lure her back to my side.

Just after Christmas, she decided she was tired of the rain and ran off to Argentina to take tango lessons, leaving me with a half written play, a short story in need of repair, and a novel floundering on the plot-rocks. I also had a child out of school whining "I'm so bored!" I know it's important not to rely on your Muse to feel inspired. Muses are flaky, flirty things, prone to star gazing and peeking into other people's windows. An artist should never put all her faith in her Muse. One sparkly object and POOF, the Muse is off hunting for the shiny thing, yelling, "Pretty!" A wise artist puts her butt in the chair and keeps working, even when inspiration vanishes. So I took my sorry butt and my lap-top to Jody's farm house and sat down at her dining room table to write. Whether my Muse returned or not, I was going to finish that dang story!

It was so quiet out there. Just me, some good tunes, the slightest hum of my lap-top, and Max, Jody's cat who checked on me now and then by rubbing against my leg and meowing. Getting away from the laundry and dishes and phone calls and the demanding call of "Mommy" for one long day and night snapped me out of my writer's block. Within one hour I was writing, suddenly seeing the problems with my short story and instantly knowing what I needed to do. The time flew, and just when the sun was beginning to hide behind the hills and the house grow a bit chilly, my Muse arrived.

"What are you doing?" she asked, casually flicking her new, black Argentine fan.

"Writing."

She lightly tapped the table with her fan. "Without me?"

"You were busy."

"No I wasn't. Not really. If you needed me, you could've called."

I kept typing.

"What are you working on?" she asked.

"The Gift."

"The Gift? I don't know that one."

"It used to be House of Tolerance, but I've changed the name."

"Oh..." She sat at the table across from me. "Do you need any help?"

I looked up at her and smiled. "No. I'm good for now. Maybe in a little while."

I continued typing while she watched. Max came into the room, stared at her, then flicked her tale sharply as she turned her back and left the room.

"There," I said, and hit the save button.

"Done?" My Muse's eyebrows shot up so fast I thought one of her own snakes had bit her.

"Yep. For now. I need to look up some info about heating systems in the 1880's, but otherwise, it feels about done." I smiled as I stood. "I'm going to take a bath. See ya."

Lounging in the tub, covered with lavender scented water, I understood what my Muse meant when she said she felt fecund. I guess my Muse cuts through the static of my life to help me stay creative. But in those moments of solitude and peace, I can cut through the static on my own.

My Muse popped her head into the bathroom a couple of times. I think she was a little worried I might not be giving her so much chocolate in the future.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

It sounds like running away was the right move. Did you find the information you were looking for on heating systems? :)