Regular travel can wreak havoc on any relationship, but it inflicts a particular kind of damage on one's relationship with the Muse. Since the end of May, I've been on the road quite a bit and I didn't pay much attention to the fact that my Muse wasn't getting the kind of attention she was used to from me. During the first year of travel and even into the beginning months of this year, I was writing furiously as much and as often as possible working on a couple of big projects as well as helping a friend with his first novel. But at the end of this past May, an intense period of traveling began. I traveled from Austin to the central coast of California, then down south to San Luis Obispo, then north again to Portland and then Seattle, back to Mill Valley, CA and finally back to Portland, where I am now. My Muse was NOT happy. Not at all. In spite of a couple of 2 - 3 week stretches in there in which I did get some writing done, all that movement really interrupted my momentum and every one of my projects suffered...and I have A LOT of projects going. This summer, I even began a few more because when you don't have much time, starting something new is much easier than working on a more developed project that needs revisions and editing.
So here I am with a desktop filled with wonderful creative opportunities, but without my Muse, none of it will flow, none of the magic or energy that makes it sing will be there. I discovered this when I sat down to pick up my much-neglected 1000 words/day writing practice. When I opened to the blank page, I noticed the creative well had become dry and overgrown with weeds from neglect. In fact, it felt so empty and lifeless that I actually considered taking a nap instead of writing (so unlike me). I felt sleepy and lethargic as I watched the words hit the page and realized something was definitely wrong. I forced myself to continue even though it felt like pushing rocks up a hill. Finally, toward the end of my practice a light of realization began to glimmer. Something began to emerge and rise up from the dust. Of course! My Muse! How could I be so blind? With everything I know and have taught others about sustaining a relationship with this wondrous being, I was stunned to discover how much I'd neglected mine. I just kept telling myself it was no big deal, that I'd get back to fanning the creative fires just as soon as I stopping traveling so much. That made perfect sense, but it didn't excuse me from not finding SOME way of keeping that connection strong and vibrant.
We all have our learning curve, I suppose and what I recognized is that I need to put some strategies or techniques in place for the next time I find myself moving around so much. A bit of preventative medicine, so to speak to keep the juices flowing even if I'm not writing as much as usual. A little attention every day is better than none, especially for a writer who knows how delicious it is to work with the Muse. I must admit, I was pretty spoiled, which is why it was really disheartening to sit down to write and discover that the flow had stopped and there was nothing to capture. Not long ago it had been a gusher of ideas pouring forth.
All is not lost. It is only temporarily dammed up. Just as it takes a little while to get my muscles back in shape after weeks away from the gym, it will take some warming up of my Muse before she and I find our rhythm again.
I'm trusting that there have been some benefits to this dormant period. I DO have some wonderful new ideas that came through while I was driving. They're still pretty raw, but I did write them down for future development. Also, the writing I did do in fits and starts has evolved into some nice pieces that may be able to be shaped into something publishable.
I look forward to riding the rapids with my Muse again as we dive together deep into the eddies and swirls of the subconscious where we can mine the as yet unborn, formless ideas and shape them together into essays, blog posts, plays, screenplays, non-fictions books and maybe even some poetry here and there.
In the meantime, a solid return to my daily practice--showing up so that my Muse knows I'm loyal and committed. Then off we go!