Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Never Ignore the Muse

I'm three weeks into my writing class that began the end of January--40 Days and 40 Nights: Deepening our Practice. It turns out that four assignments a week, in my week at least, has been a challenge. Last week, I had my piece figured out in my head, but I procrastinated getting it on paper, got wrapped up in email and dinner plans, and decided I needed sleep more than I needed to write. The next day my mental plan had vanished.

It's not a good thing to ignore the urge to write, that moment when the idea is clear, even if the words aren't. Never let something as urgent as sleep crowd it out. Never put it off until the dinner is cooked or the kids are in bed or the invoice is posted. At least jot down some fragments that can later be formed into rational thought.

Because if you don't, something else intrudes, the next task is imminent, the demands of the day are right there in your face, and they have to be done. The moment is lost. Sometimes you can't even remember the idea. It dissipates into the air like steam rising from a boiling pan of spaghetti. Then getting words on paper is impossible. The impetus is gone, the momentum lost, the spark that drives the pen flickers out.

You try again the next day, but you can't remember the feeling that came the moment you looked out the kitchen door and saw the blue heron standing on the rock. You can't remember the color of the sky or the strange combination of smells that assaulted your nose when the door opened.

And there's still the assignment that must be done, still a commitment requiring words on a page, the longing for a tone of voice that only thoughtful words will capture. The process demands time and discipline. Time to think, to re-see, to craft words and sentences and paragraphs that one day you hope someone other than your husband or your mother will read. Words that a reader somewhere will think about, identify with, perhaps even change for. Powerful words that speak to a desire, a longing, deeper than the paragraphs on the page.

But it starts with the urge to write, and the posterior in the chair, and pen to pad or fingers to keys.


  1. This is beautiful, Doraine! I'm so glad that I knew you- in my teenage years.
    Congrats on all of your success!
    Take care, I do hope the best for you.
    from your old friend,
    Becky Smith Griffin

  2. Thanks, Becky. Good to know you are well. We did make some good memories, didn't we?