Rediscovering My MuseA Story by Joe Langen
Reconnecting with my muse after I had ignored and lost contact with her.
Reconnecting with My Muse
There is no classical Greek muse for fiction, yet I have a fiction muse. There was none for roller skating either, yet one appeared in the movie Xanadu. Something in that movie excited me. Was it Olivia Newton-John or her character? I thought it might be a rekindling of my adolescent fantasies, since, partly by fate and partially by choice, I have not yet finished being an adolescent. After seeing the movie three times, I realized that there was something more here for me than just a movie. It took a while to figure out what stirred me.
For the past several years, there has been an extra feminine presence around my house. It was not my wife or either of my two daughters. It was more than the female presence of the dog or cat. At first, it was very ethereal, like the memory of a purple dressing gown from
She does have other sensory qualities. I can hear her swish by or rustle near me. I can feel her warmth and softness against my shoulder or thigh. At times, I have been aware of a faint lavender scent. I can feel her closeness and the weight of ideas she offers me. I am aware of her restlessness when I choose to read rather than write and her disappointment when I watch television.
She first appeared after I attended a noontime concert, inspiring me to write a story about music and schizophrenia. I had not planned to write the story. I had written nothing creative since my bungling attempts in high school English class. All I had published were newspaper articles about mental health. All I had written recently were psychological test reports.
I did have a new computer. I knew enough about computers to know that there were no ideas inside. All the computer could do was say yes or no, although it did so in some very sophisticated ways. I sat at the computer and somehow my fingers typed the first story. Other stories followed, without my realizing where they originated or why I felt compelled to write them.
I found out the hard way that muses do not like being ignored. I decided that I needed to concentrate on my finances for a while rather than on my writing. Shortly after that I found my attempts to write yielding wooden outlines, stony starts and ideas which scattered like feathers in the wind.
Nothing worked. She was gone. Reading fiction prompted new ideas. Writer's Digest provided tools. Writer's Market listed publishing prospects. All too late. Nothing worked.
I thought she was gone for good. I guess I deserved it. I never thought much about how to entertain a muse. I have since come to realize that muses are much like people. If there is nothing to interest them, they move on. I did not invite her to come to me in the first place, and did not know how to get her back. Maybe somebody else could use the books I had bought about writing. I could go back to enjoying others' fiction.
While driving to northern
Sitting at the picnic table outside the cabin on the second day, I realized my muse was back. The swish was there, the warmth. Was that lavender in the air? I had another chance. But which muse was she? She was not Polyphonia. My work could scarcely be called sacred poetry. Nor was she Erato, Euterpe or Calliope. I don't write love poetry, lyric poetry or epic poetry. What I do can not be considered astronomy, so she could not be Urania. My work is read, not staged. Therefore, it could not be inspired by Terpsichore, famed for choral song and dance. I clearly write fiction and not history, eliminating Clio. My writing does not feel like tragedy or comedy, leaving out Melpomene and Thalia.
That was nine. There were no muses left. Then I recalled that muses are not fond of revealing themselves fully. Nor, as I should have been aware, are they particularly logical. Yet there I was trying to figure her out. One must be my muse. Since there is none for fiction, she must be Calliope, the muse most likely to take an interest in my writing.
Learning from past mistakes, I finally realized that my job was to make her comfortable, give her space in my mind, and listen to what she whispered to me. I will have to take better care of her. Next time she leaves, she might not come back.
P.S. If you are wondering what became of my muse, you can follow our conversations about my current writing at www.commonsense-wisdom.blogspot.com.
© 2008 Joe Langen
Added on April 10, 2008
Last Updated on April 10, 2008
AboutI am a retired psychologist now writing full time. I have published Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, a book of reflections on everyday experiences, Young Man of the Cloth, a memoir about my nine .. more..