So, I have just spent two weeks in what I call ‘the real world’. Training near London; filling in mind-boggling paperwork for the IRS; and then back home to deal with a disaster leak situation in my shower room. Picture the Titanic; only worse, okay? I had what looked like a Florida sinkhole in the bathroom. I washed in my kitchen sink for three days. I am grateful that it’s all fixed at last, and right now, I am back in what I call ‘my other world’. My writing world, the creative universe I love to lose myself into. I had flying dreams last night, and so I knew that today would be a good one! I went to the market, bought several packets of my favourite incense, and then created a focused, charged, potent space for a little writing magic to take place.
Stephen King, in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, says that there is indeed a muse, and that the job of a writer is to make sure that “the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon; or seven ’til three.” If he does, King assures us, sooner or later, he will show up. Well, my muse is not a cigar-smoking, bad-tempered hairy guy like Stephen’s… Mine is a symbol for the universal creative force that I can tap into; or rather, that can tap into me. All I need to do to allow the process is open the doors to perception, and invite her in. It is like loosening what we call in NLP our critical faculty, the part of us that cares to distinguish between fantasy and reality. I don’t often ‘care’ to distinguish between the two, although I do whilst I am operating in ‘the real world’! And I love letting go. I might even describe this flinging open of the doors as an opening of the third-eye chakra, often associated with inspiration and creativity, as well as altered states of consciousness, imagination, and psychic abilities. When it is time to connect, I get a feeling; like a subtle shimmering inside of consciousness. Like I said, a loosening up of perception, and access to more. So, what happens then?
Well, Stephen King also says this about the muse: “He’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your computer. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair.” Yes, I think it’s fair too. My muse also demands total commitment to the task at hand. Sometimes, she wants me to prove it to her. To show her how much I want it. With my last book, I wrote 70,000 words in 20 days. Didn’t think about it much, I just let it flow. Every day when I switched on my laptop, story would get written. For 20 days, inspiration was there for me every morning. Except for one, when I woke up, and my muse was not there. But hey – if you’re a writer, you’ve got to write even when you’re left alone to do it. True, I struggled. I spent all morning with it, and only came up with a measly 1,800 words. It was messy, sweaty, bloody hard work. Just after lunchtime, in a moment of clarity, I got rid of it. This was not what I wanted – not good enough. But eventually, after 10 solid hours of persistence and perspiration, inspiration settled back in. And suddenly, there, I had it! Two more chapters later, and it was done. I had my first draft. Now, if you think it ends there, think again. Because now is when it starts. Now, I can start to chisel and sculpt this story into shape. Now, it has become mine to write consciously. So, you see, you have to show you care. You have to show up, period.
Do you have a muse? Well, try this: grab a pen and paper, and think of a question you have. It could be about anything. Write it at the top. Then, close your eyes. Relax. Start to pay attention, and you might hear a whisper inside your head. Some call it instinct, intuition, guardian angel, higher self… Muse. Whatever name you choose, whether yours smokes roll-ups and calls you names, or wears a summer white dress and takes you through a field of wildflowers, allow her in, and listen. Start to write it down. Best thing I ever did.
“Writing is a spiritual practice in that people who have no spiritual path can undertake it and, as they write, they begin to wake up to a larger connection. After a while, people tend to find that there is some muse that they are connecting to.” – Julia Cameron.