Meeting the Muse

By guest blogger Joan Lambert Bailey

This piece first appeared on Joan’s blog, Popcorn Homestead, and is reprinted here with permission. Written while she was participating in the 2011 Blogathon.

Image by Joan Lambert Bailey

Today’s theme for the Blogathon (five places I like to write) is one I’m really struggling with as it touches on a rather sensitive topic for me just now. Three nearby coffee shops offer cozy tables, great pastry, and strong brew all made to foster creativity. The desk in our apartment affords a great view over the street we live on and the neighboring gardens. Our kitchen table, though, is perhaps my favorite. It is where, more often than not, the Muse and I sit down over coffee to catch up on the latest news and ideas. It is there with notebook and pen in the silence of early morning that we meet.

Well, where we used to meet, I guess. Like any long-term relationship, the Muse and I are going through one of those rough spots. I regularly visit our old hangouts, but she’s not there. The coffee tastes bland, and I tell myself as I nibble on the cinnamon and raisin bun we both love that maybe the rain is keeping her away. Or it’s the sunshine and she’s forgot we planned to meet that day. It’s hard to say. Blaming doesn’t help in the long run, but I can only make so many excuses before I need to face the fact that I’m working alone again.

We meet occasionally at the kitchen table these days, but it feels awkward. I’m there every morning, but she’s not. Or if she is, she’s distracted, and then my pen always seems to run out of ink just as the conversation gets really good. Then I’m out of coffee or one of us needs to step away to the restroom, and the thread of conversation breaks. Back at the table, we fumble for words and inevitably the Day can be heard just outside the door not so subtly rummaging through its sack of chores. The notebook closes with the pen clipped to the side. Our eyes don’t meet as we mumble about meeting again tomorrow morning.

How long can this go on? It’s hard to say. We’re in one of those spots that feel horrible, and I know she probably gets as upset as I do about it all. While I’m sure she sees others, I did think we had something special together. I look at my calendar to see how to pencil her in, but the weeks fly by without a good chat. Maybe a long weekend, just the two of us. Or just sneaking off for the day or even a morning. A sort of “date night” thing to help us get some of the magic back, to reignite that spark, to remind us of what brought us together in the first place. Meanwhile, I’ll set my alarm to meet her at the table with fresh coffee and extra pens.

Joan Lambert Bailey

Joan Lambert Bailey currently lives and writes in Tokyo where she is lucky enough to get her hands dirty at a local organic farm. You can read about her adventures learning about Japanese food from seed to harvest to table at Popcorn Homestead or join her on Twitter.

7 Responses to Meeting the Muse
  1. Bell
    Twitter: StartYourNovel
    June 3, 2011 | 6:30 AM

    The Muse is somewhat shy. And fickle.

    She promises, yet often fails to deliver. I believe these days she goes by an alias: “Cheshire cat.” She fades from sight even as she smiles at you.

    Maybe the Muse works best when she goes unnoticed. She doesn’t like to be tied to any one place for very long. Just hint that you’ve got a guest room for her and she can stop by any time she wants. Don’t count on her for anything, she’s a flighty bird.

    A spark ignites the fire, but does not keep it burning.

  2. Julia
    Twitter: wordsxo
    June 3, 2011 | 10:28 AM

    This is a great post — I read it on your blog when you first posted it, too — and I can really really relate because I’ve been going through a similar crisis myself. Hope yours (and mine) don’t go on too much longer!

  3. j
    June 3, 2011 | 6:05 PM

    Love this. I’m not usually so poetic standing the muse’s absence.

  4. purplekangaroos
    June 3, 2011 | 8:39 PM

    I learned to stop coaxing her. I finally figured out that she is giving me so much most of the time and just wants a vacation.

    So I take my own…visit the library, return with a stack of books, pile them around me, dive in bed and ignoring her I feed on other’s stories. Usually by the next day she ran up to me during my morning espresso and couldn’t shut up before my notebook page was filled up. Recently it took three days and several books.

    So far, she has never failed to come back…

  5. Laura Best
    June 4, 2011 | 7:13 PM

    She usually only shows up when she’s good and ready. And when she’s ready sometimes she’ll stay for hours and make several visits throughout the day. πŸ™‚

    Enjoyed this post.

  6. Lois
    June 5, 2011 | 6:31 PM

    I have definitely been there, and it helps to know I’m not the only one. I think, at the moment, I am the one who’s absent…or maybe I’ve driven my muse away by getting more involved in domestic things, which have taken me away from my writing lately. Whatever the reason, I’ve “penciled in” my writing time for tomorrow. I’ll write if it kills me! πŸ˜›

  7. Joan Lambert Bailey
    June 17, 2011 | 10:38 PM

    It’s good to know I’m not alone in missing my Muse. She’s come back around, and we’re working it out, that’s for sure. I sometimes think she might only be as disciplined as me. If I show up and am open to her visit – really open – then we can work it out. And sometimes I just have to force myself to be open to her visit. Whatever it is, it’s always worth the wait and the effort.

    Any tips on how you all get her back?

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