It is six o’clock in the morning, the household is quiet and I tiptoe out to the porch, hot coffee in hand. My laptop, is there waiting for me, brought out moments earlier as part of my preparations. I sit down, sign in and wait. I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and wait some more. She’s here, I know she is – I just can’t see her yet. I wait some more, still, quiet, listening, deeply, inwardly, patiently. Where are you?
My muse is an elusive phantom who cannot be pushed into making an appearance. I cannot force a visitation. Gentle enticements are the bait for this ethereal creature. Like the hummingbird who visits the flowers in my garden, she comes when she wants to, and any sudden aggressive movements will surely frighten her away.
But I know the steps to this dance now. I have practiced my part and I am ready. My job is to create the space. If it is writing that I am after – timing is of crucial significance. Early mornings are always best – but not if there is other activity around me. Interruptions are my enemy. Though I often enjoy music in the background, or the simple sounds of songbirds – conversation is the death knell. Chaos – is just that. Calm is the key. I can have an idea in mind, in fact I often have several swimming around in there, but it is not until I feel the gentle touch of my muse that the words begin to flow, down from brain, flowing quietly, smoothly like the waters of a stream, down over my shoulders, through my arms and out through my fingertips like individual droplets of water. The writing simply flows, and I never know where exactly it will take me until I am done.
If it art that I am after – a different ritual takes place. Again, I enjoy music that fits my energy level. Though honestly, this is a constant for me – rarely am I without music – it is my constant companion. But like with writing, my first step is about creating the space to create a piece of art. Depending on what feels right – I select my paper and set it up – on the wall over plastic sheets, on the easel set-up in my studio/office space or sometimes outside, in the grass. I gather my tools; pastels, paper towels, smudge sticks, ink, brushes and an occasional kneaded eraser. I change into my “art clothes” the oversized, stained and comfortable shirts that free me from worry. And then when I am all ready – I close my eyes and wait as mind and muse merge. I see the colors, feel the gestures, and let go of my controlled thought in favor of the moment and the state of flow which washes over me. Trading colors, blue for green, red for purple – making lines, blending colors, feeling shapes, seeing and not seeing, feeling and flowing.
There are times when the desire to write or to draw is a force that I cannot ignore. I can feel the pressure building inside of me. There is a drawing waiting to be created, a story needing to be told – sometimes other demands take precedence. And that can hard, as days, weeks and even months can pass. And when this happens I can often feel unsettled, dissatisfied and even physically unwell. But I know it will break. It always does – the muse will visit again. I know this because we are interconnected – my muse and me. I need her for inspiration and she needs me for manifestation.
It is my job to create the space,
– my job to find the time,
– my job to gather the tools,
– and my job to collect the ideas.
But it is the muse – that magical goddess of inspiration who takes these elements and creates the art. Like the honored guest at a precious banquet – she enters, strikes the match, lighting the candles and signaling that it is time for the feast to begin.
(Drawing by Arthur Rackham)