Starting anything new is hard. You need a surge of energy to boot up your computer, start your car, or sit down and start writing. I have a muse, but I also have Brenda, she is more of an anti-muse. Brenda is seductive. If you come across her, beware. She saps your vital energy. She says things like: Why not have that cup of tea before getting down to it? And surely, it won’t hurt to check your email? And look at this interesting article!
At this point I am lost. My morning writing time has turned into the lethargic afternoon. My brain is fuzzy and starving for serotonin. At least that’s what I think the brainbox is starving for. Neurotransmitters aren’t really my bailiwick.
Personal coaches sometimes call Resistance the Gremlin, that horned creature that sits on your shoulder gargoyle-like and tells you not to bother. Brenda is like that, but much better looking.
Brenda is scruffy (earthy, some would say) and likes to wear fishnet stockings and bright red lipstick. She can always think of something else I should be doing instead of writing. It’s that word “just” to watch out for. Oh, I’ll just have a piece of chocolate before starting, I hear myself thinking. But I know that’s Brenda at work. I’ll just get the mail and then I’m really, really going to start.
Does this sound familiar?
Everything is easy to people who don’t have to do it themselves. Could you just revise the ending of that story? Could you just move this building a little to the left? It all sounds too easy.
When I resist resistance, Brenda renews her effort. She elbows me in the ribs and says, “Go on, enjoy yourself. You only live once.” If I continue to focus, she becomes petulant. I have to admit, she has a certain allure when she gets all pouty, but she’s no good for me. I don’t need distractions. I need focus.
Brenda can be quite a handful. Ignore her for long and she gets insulting. I don’t know where she learned to swear like that! And, I hate that bubblegum habit. But seduction doesn’t work by tantrum. By the time Brenda is in a full-blown tizzy, she knows she’s lost and storms out.
I try to be like Odysseus who manfully strapped himself to the mast of his ship. He blocked his ears with wax to drown out the sound of the mellifluous sirens. I don’t want to be shipwrecked on the rocks of inertia.
I do feel sorry for Brenda though. I’ve always thought she was somebody else’s muse once. Perhaps whomever she belonged to probably ignored her. Ignore your muse at your peril because Hell hath no fury like a muse ignored.Of course, shutting up and listening to what a woman has to say is what every wise man eventually learns.
I used to have a full-time muse, Brigitte. But now she only shows up occasionally. Brigitte is here right now. She’s sitting on the arm of my sofa twisting a ringlet of her hair with her finger. But she never shows up when Brenda is around.
What I do know about my muse is that she likes the quiet of the early morning. During that crepuscular state between dreaming and waking Brigitte lies in bed with me whispering in my ear. Her generosity is boundless. She speaks to me in eloquent sentences which she freely gives me to write as my own.
But on grasping for the Moleskine notebook beside my bed most of her whispers vanish like a desert mirage. I feel her slipping away from me as the cold light of dawn brings with it its mind-numbing banality of taskiness. I am left only with a few images, thoughts, and ideas like playing cards from some long-forgotten suit.
Creativity is not about thinking things up, but getting things down as I read somewhere recently. Just a few jottings can help. Brigitte was here only a moment ago. Now she’s gone. She’s like that.
“Yes, Brenda, you look marvelous in that new leather jacket. Pizza, you say? Yes, I’m coming now. No, you’re not disturbing me.”