Keeping Myself A-Mused
By Alexa Day
My Muse has been on a roll lately. Projects are in motion, notes are flowing, and I actually submitted something a few days ago. I couldn’t be more pleased with the guy.
By the time you read this, I will be off giving him a reward: our very first Bloody Mary and some people-watching at a popular bar. I’m already a little excited about it. It’ll take some of the time I should be investing in my tax return, but it’s important. Unfortunately, I had to discover the hard way that creative playtime is more important than creative work time.
After Illicit Impulse came out a little over a year ago, my life descended into chaos, and not in a sexy way. Let’s just say shelter was the only thing I was certain of, and that’s because my landlady is a friend. During this time, while I was trying to get my book the visibility it loves so much, I spread myself pretty thin, and long story short, my Muse got the shaft (and not in a sexy way, heyo!). I knew I had to be working, but I couldn’t scrape together enough creative spark to get anything useful on the page.
When 2014 arrived, I had done little to deserve my Muse’s attention. I needed him, but all I could get from him was eye-rolling and some worn-out sounding prose.
Then came Metallica.
I was in my car, trying to cram 45 minutes worth of food into a 30-minute lunch interval when the Muse started to rock out to a Metallica four-play. When the Muse is rocking, I see little flickery snippets of story, and he was showing me some good stuff that afternoon in the parking lot. Then the music was over, and he was back to eye-rolling.
I asked what he needed. Yeah, passersby could see me. Those people are used to seeing me talk to myself, I hope.
The Muse wanted a beer. That night.
I started to make an excuse and got more eye-rolling. Okay. That night it was.
So I took the Muse to a bar, and I got him a beer and myself a burger. Before long I was hearing some absolutely filthy dialogue. The Muse loves his India Pale Ale, and I put that dialogue to work as soon as I got home. Everybody won.
Now I know the Muse needs to play from time to time. I also know I can’t keep drinking like this. Not only is it a horrible cliche, it’s expensive and time-consuming, and the work suffers when I’m hung over.
Instead, I’ve broken the creative playtime options down into a few different categories. If I need to get back in touch with my senses, I might go for a long drive, windows down and music turned up, bound for the mountains or the beach. I’ll try a new recipe with new ingredients. I’ll photograph the flowers emerging throughout the neighborhood.
If I need to be around people, I’ll arrange for a girls’ night or hit happy hour or drag my introverted self to a party. And for the more … illicit stuff, there’s always the neighborhood strip club. Alas, we only have one male revue here in this one-horse town, but I’m committed to keeping it in business.
If I need a quick fix, I’ll pull out the crayons or head down to the museum or settle in with someone else’s poetry. Or I’ll read outside my chosen genre. Reading James Dickey’s Deliverance has been pure Muse candy; I could read his description of the Southern road trip (before the unpleasantness) every night like a prayer.
After playtime is over, I’m ready to get back under the keyboard and really have some fun. It’s so refreshing to write like the craft is new, without pressure, without concern for the business, with freedom and joy. And I get more done, too. Everyone wins, right?
So it’s best for everyone involved if I have that Bloody Mary. Now I just have to figure out how to make it and all those singles from the strip club tax deductible.
Follow Lady Smut. We’ll get those creative juices (and the Bloody Mary mix) flowing.