When the Muse Fails to Show Up
It Finally Happened
After one-thousand articles on HubPages…..
After two-thousand articles for customers….
After three novels…..
After countless short stories…..
After four years of writing five and six days per week….
It finally happened…..
The muse left me.
I woke up one morning and I didn’t have a clue what I would write about.
I woke up that morning and couldn’t care less if I did write.
August 20, 2015 was the day.
And it scared the hell out of me.
Well worth reading
A Little History Is Necessary
I’ve had my share of jobs. I’ve worked for fifty years and trust me, there have been some clunkers and some winners in the job pool of my past. I learned from them all but there are some I have no desire ever doing again. Shoveling pig poop at a farm immediately comes to mind.
Teaching was the highlight of my work history. For eighteen years I dispensed book learning with life lessons and I loved every minute of it. I would wake up in the morning eager to go to work, and how many people can say that? But the day came five years ago when the passion was gone, so I quit teaching and became a writer….and loved it!
I had replaced one passion with another. I was riding a winning streak in the employment gambling hall. I loved writing, I had an inexhaustible supply of ideas and I developed a loyal following of readers who actually thought I had some talent.
I was in literary heaven.
And then the muse left me.
Like a junkie jonesin’ for the next fix, only to find out his supplier left town, I was figuratively shaking with the cold sweats.
My muse left me.
I was two-thirds of the way through my fourth novel and suddenly I didn’t like my characters. I could see a scene but was unable to translate it into words. Every article I wrote sounded like blah, blah and more blah. I had become a cut-out replica of myself, a one-dimensional facsimile of the writer I once was.
I bored myself with my tripe.
What the hell was I going to do?
One of my favorite videos
A Simple Solution
I walked away.
“God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I remembered lessons learned long ago, lessons about acceptance, lessons that told me when the going gets tough it’s all right for the tough to step aside and allow change to happen.
My wife, Bev, actually held the key. She told me I was still as creative as I always had been but I just hit a wall and was suffering from burn out. She told me to walk away from my writing and go feed the chickens, and when I was done with that go build a shed, and when that was done go work on the other projects that needed doing before winter arrived.
Well my daddy didn’t raise an idiot. I’ve come to trust in Bev’s wisdom, so that’s what I did. For three weeks I did very little writing. I satisfied customers and met their demands, and I wrote articles for HubPages that required very little creativity, but for the most part I just worked on our urban farm and shut my brain down. I got my hands dirty in the soil. I shoveled and dug, cultivated and harvested. I went for walks. I breathed in and breathed out, took care of our critters and thanked the gods for the great life I have. I enjoyed family and I bathed myself in the knowledge that life really is so very good.
Silently in the Night She Creeps
That’s how it happens sometimes, at least for me. I was in bed, allowing my mind to float free after a busy day, when much to my delight the muse returned. I envisioned the tough streets of a dirty city, the struggles of its inhabitants, the daily grind of living life on life’s terms. I saw each character, I felt their pain, I heard their cries, I was totally plugged into their struggle.
And it felt wonderful.
My lover had returned!
“Where have you been?” I silently asked her.
“You were boring the hell out of me,” she replied sweetly. “I needed to get the hell away from you before I died of a terminal yawn.”
“Well I’m glad you returned, my friend.”
“Don’t celebrate yet, Billybuc. I’ll only stay if you promise to quit resting on your laurels and actually try to improve as a writer. No more coasting, Big Boy. Strap on some literary balls and soar to new heights, or I’m out of here with tomorrow’s trash. And try learning about balance, while you’re at it. Man does not live by writing alone. There’s a big world out there and you need to step away from the computer and live it. You don’t have to spend your entire existence writing. It’s all right to actually live life AND write. Now get busy or I’m hitting the pavement and I won’t be back.”
Our Old Nemesis
Was it writer’s block? A rose by any other name is still a rose, but personally I think it was simply a matter of burnout. I had written too much. I had become a clone of myself and in truth, I had become complacent. I had become satisfied with mediocrity and maybe a part of me was totally disgusted that I was settling for less than my best.
I know my muse was thoroughly disgusted, so she packed her bags and hit the highway, in search of a writer who was willing to do anything to be the best he/she could be.
I’m grateful she returned and gave me one last chance.
My new book on the writing experience
Or not! I don’t claim to be the brightest bulb in the package, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Right now I feel good. Right now I’m back running on all cylinders and the creative juices are flowing. I’ve written some pretty good stuff the past couple months, and my new novel is just about done in rough draft form. My muse and I are working well together and I’m grateful for that.
I’ve written like a man possessed these past four years. I know the clock is running out on me. Even if I live to be ninety, my most productive years are very limited in number, so a part of me wants to crank out as much as possible in the next few years. But still…..
Man does not live by writing alone, and I need to remember that. I need to remember that it’s all right to walk away occasionally and actually live the life I always write about. Who knows? By doing so, I just might become a better writer.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly”