When the Muses Don’t Answer

If I had a dollar for every empty-worded late night; every frantic cup of watery coffee; every annoyed backspace on a keyboard, I wouldn’t be worrying incessantly about my future as a debt victim.

I’m beginning to believe that anything ever created is either the result of a moment of absolute brilliance, or lifetimes of painstaking work. Whoever invented the wheel was most likely struck with sudden insight, or spent fifty years shredding their soul for some vague concept of movement.

Words are beauty—representations of thoughts and feelings that may otherwise go unacknowledged, even by the self. These little blooms of ideas sometimes become lost, trapped inside heads and ink stains. In those moments (days) when I lose language and words hide, I struggle to complete sentences.

Feeling like a mother who has lost control of her children, I beg. I plead, I bargain, I try everything short of selling my dignity to get them to behave. I promise cookies for the good words who come from their deep hiding places. I play music that usually charms punctuation and syntax to twirl from my fingertips.

When sounds of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Wu-Tang can’t persuade the words, I go for a walk. Sometimes mischievous words need time alone to cool off and come to their senses. If exercise and fresh oxygen don’t rejuvenate the words, sleep may be necessary. An overworked word can’t think straight, so yawning and grumpy, I rest for a bit and let the words settle down.

Returning to my laptop, I keep an open notebook and pen ready. When my fingers produce nothing on a keyboard, my hands feel embarrassed, and make up for a lack of words with scribbles and doodles. Often, the subconscious gliding of ink on paper calls forth the muscle memory of creation—oh, so this is how life is made.

Nonsensical swirls become words. Unrelated, irrelevant, they lead to more words. Sentences, some almost-thoughts. Feeling hypnotized, I let the words use me to breathe. After a moment, when my eyes catch the computer screen, the dread feels less dreadful. I use the energy felt during nonsense to propel into my original mission. With my words finally willing to cooperate, I play the keyboard like a piano. The lovely little clatterings sound like symphonies in the wake of uninspired silence.

Even if I don’t feel satisfied with the finished product, I am relieved to get the words out. Your entire wellbeing can be compromised if creativity is kept inside for too long. There should be clinics specifically for those suffering from suppressed creativity—finger painting, glitter, notebooks and good pens. If you try to rush the creating process, more than just the final product suffers.

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