I recently read an article by Molly Spencer entitled, Against the Muse Myth: On Motherhood and the Writing Life. This particular piece resonated with me quite a bit because I could picture myself in Molly’s shoes: being a mother, being somewhat of a writer, and not feeling I would have the time to be both. For a long time, Molly thought that to be a writer, you needed to have some sort of wave of inspiration wash over you, that a sacred place to write was essential in creating authentic and engaging pieces. Writing wasn’t for in-between places, like making dinner or running errands. It was for designated hours attached to a desk with a 1940’s typewriter and ink in a jar. Molly discovered as she raised her kids, that those in-between places were the best places and times to write, and write she did.
I had the same outlook as Molly, for quite a few years. I didn’t feel I could ‘get the creative juices flowing’ unless I was surrounded by the right elements and had complete silence and the right type of pen with the right colour ink and the correct notebook and you see where I am going with this. The result? Nothing. Literally, blank pages, or a blank computer screen. For a long time I blamed my ‘writer’s block’ on the lack of stars aligning, but in reality I think I was scared. I still am, sometimes. A lot. What if my writing is terrible? What if no one reads it? What if I receive negative criticism? My anxiety does not help my cause, I must say; those phrases swirl around in my head, even as I write this.
But now? Well, there is one lesson I have learnt from restarting my writing journey: The more you write, the more you write. Yes, even if it is crappy, even if it is just a diary to yourself. Even if the words will never see the light of day. Even if you burn them. Just write, and eventually the words will spew all over you, and you won’t be able to stop. So I did what Molly did, and now I write when I’m feeding my son, when I’m waiting for an appointment, when I’m eating dinner or when I’m reading. It is like a pressure valve in my brain that needs to be released. I can feel it about to break the surface, and I know I have to write it down or I will regret not catching those words by the bucketful. You may be thinking, “Isn’t that the wave of inspiration?” No. It is my own creation. I kept chiselling at the rock, bit by bit until water flowed effortlessly out. However, if I don’t keep working at that rock, keep chiselling and hammering, eventually the flow will stop. My inspiration is created by myself, not by a muse.
I did once have a muse, though. For years, I believed she helped me with my creativity, leaning over my shoulder as I sat at my desk, her energy transcending through me, through to my work. But when life’s difficulties encumbered me, she suddenly disappeared. This idea I had personified into a ‘muse’ had abandoned me, and for years I believed that I wasn’t meant to be a writer. It wasn’t my passion anymore. I was very wrong. I tried various other avenues, thinking that I could find fulfilment in other work, other relationships, other fields of interest, but I was slowly dying inside, little by little. I stopped reading. I stopped practising witchcraft. I just stopped. I felt like a fly on the wall in my own life, watching my self as an automaton while the world passed by without so much as a thought of me. I entered into an abusive relationship, I stopped and started various courses, I drank, I drugged, I moved to the country, I got married, I got cheated on, I had a baby, and now as I write this piece, I am in the middle of a divorce, living in my parents’ house with an almost ten month old boy, what was left of my life for the past several years crammed into the back room along with my dog and three cats. But I am writing again. I am reading again. I am catching up on the life I knew I should have lived but I was too afraid to.
I write this piece with pens scattered all over my desk, various books and notepads strewn somewhere in between, with muddy cat pawprints leaving a trail through it all. And I don’t care. The art of perfection is a time waster. It is a preventative. A stopper in the intricacies of our lives. Mess is creation. Mess is an abundance of inspiration. Mess is human.
This is my mess, and I am absolutely content in thriving in it.
Read Molly’s article by clicking here