How do I know? Well, there’s money missing from my wallet and she sure as heck isn’t here with me, in this lonely, windowless, overheated office. Doesn’t she know about my abandonment issues?
Fellow artists, I know you’ve felt the empty feeling and the pull-your-hair out panic when your muse is MIA. As I sit here worrying I might not have any money left when that crazy b***h gets back, I wonder—can a muse really leave? Is my muse a separate entity, or part of me? Aren’t those rare, fleeting moments of true inspiration actually me assessing my own subconscious? If I think of my muse as a separate entity, aren’t I essentially using a get out of jail free card and letting myself off the hook to explain away why I’m not producing? Maybe, but is that so terribly wrong?
This morning I watched a You Tube video where Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) questions why artists feel so tortured when their work isn’t going well and why so many plummet to the deep pits of depression and even insanity on such a regular basis. She goes on to suggest it might be healthier if artists did identify their muse as an external being, a creative divine attendant spirit that lives in the walls and seeps out and over an artist. After all, our art, although an act of expression, is in fact our job. We wouldn’t put ourselves through the dry spells if we hadn’t been called to do this work. When we show up for our job, we’re doing our bit and when the genius (Romans called a muse their genius) doesn’t visit us, well it isn’t our fault. Right? An external muse eliminates the need to torture ourselves over something completely out of our control and we get to keep our marbles. Sounds like a plan to me.
So as I plod my way through my re-writes, I’ll continue to look to my muse—even if she’s decided to wear her invisible cloak that day. And once in a while, I’ll even let her take a break if she has to blow off some steam at the casino. I’ll just have to get it in writing that she’ll be using her own cash from now on!
Here’s the link to the video. I think artists—and those that love one—will benefit from her sense of humour. We could all learn to not take ourselves so seriously.