The Wakened Muse

August 4, 2014, 11:21 pm. Atlanta, Georgia

I have done much talking about muses here, lately.  I think, before you read the text below, it’s important to understand the difference between human muses, who inspire me to create, and my Muse, which is the spirit of creation that resides within me.  She–and she most assuredly is a woman–is a constant companion, a rider, almost an extra soul.  I do not conceptualize this aspect of my talent as wholly a part of myself, but rather as an interface with the divine and the universal Soul.  For some time, I thought I had lost her, run her off or killed her.  I though I would face the rest of my life without her presence, her wry and perceptive observations, her sweetness.


(from Latin genere, gignere, to ‘beget, bring forth’). Genius in Roman mythology (corresponding to δαιμων in Greek) referred to “an attendant inner spirit assigned to every person at birth, governing their fortunes and determining their character. By extension, the sense of genius as guardian spirit was applied to specific groups, or to a particular place, as in the term genius loci” (Negus and Pickering, 2004: 138). It was believed that every individual, family, and city had its own genius. The genius received special worship as a household god because it was thought to bestow success and intellectual powers on its devotees. For this reason, the word came to designate a person with unusual intellectual powers. The genius of a woman was sometimes referred to as a juno. In art, the genius of a person was frequently depicted as a winged youth; the genius of a place, as a serpent. Daemon, or genius, was considered a real source of human creativity.


February 4, 2014 at 8:39pm. Albuquerque, New Mexico

For a year, she slept.  A sleep like death so complete that I wasn’t sure if she would ever come out of it.  The Muse had nothing to say, no dreams to give.  She had no time for me.  I was on my own, trying to fit odd pieces and bits together that were already at hand, trying to go on calling myself a writer.  I produced nothing inspired.  I knew that I could go on with the forced-march fabrication, but the electricity of creation no longer sizzled along my nerves, sang in my blood like a divine flame begging to be fanned.

It was this–heartbreak so complete that I didn’t even have pieces left to fit back together.  I was left with an empty space and fine sand.  All I could hear in that great cavern that had housed my beating, sweetly singing heart, was the sound of my own pain.  In time, that bitter dirge became self-pity and fear.  All things heal.  All wounds close over and scar.  And slowly, without knowing it, I also healed.  Still, there was no movement from that space where she slept within me.  I clung to my fear and fed it, like a stray animal, because there was nothing else.

Until one night, suddenly, in a flurry of pages scrawled with Derrida quotes and notes, she sat up and yawned enormously.  Scratching her ribs, she blinked at me and asked me if I’d made the coffee.  What time was it?  Why’d I let her oversleep?

Now, she’s had her coffee, and she’s up to her old tricks again.  Look at those clouds.  Aren’t those birds divine?  Have you ever noticed the way the light shifts just at evening, and isn’t that a perfectly marvelous shade of lavender behind the hills?  Why haven’t I taken a lover? She can’t work without material, you know.  How inconsiderate.

She leans against me, twines her arms about my neck and purrs in my ear.  She’s impossible to live with, but I have gone too long without her, and I infinitely prefer her presence.




8 thoughts on “The Wakened Muse

  1. To be fair, I kept her in a closet of family and work obligations.. or so I told myself. But I loved the way you described your’s awaking, yawning, scratching, demanding coffee, asking lots of questions, making intriguing observations, asking why you hadn’t taken a lover — she needs the raw material! That is exactly how this feels for me now. In fact, she’s got me off balance a little, but I’m finding out that that’s exactly what I needed. Now, thanks to having her back, the whole world is new again, and I’m hungry, the kind of hunger she’s feeling.

    1. I love that yours is finally coming back to you. It’s one of the most frantically magical and insanely creative times. Feed her. Everything she wants, especially if she asks for it by name without blinking. It is your arrow–and it won’t get much clearer than that.

      I still have yet to take a lover, much to her dismay–I’m horridly particular in that department. But I think she would hate me more for giving her substandard goods. 😉

  2. She would. The scorn would be obvious. However, if she’s like mine, she isn’t above sending someone who’s completely wrong, either. For the suffering, probably.

    1. I have to admit, I chuckled over that. My muse and I have an agreement; we window shop. Lots of attractive and interesting people in the world, some of whom can be creative fodder without the mess of a relationship–and good or bad, relationships are messy. It’s what they do.

      I’m like the dog who chases cars. God only knows what I’d do if I actually caught one, because that’s not the point. The point is to chase.

      1. Ain’t that the truth. I work with some other writers and was talking with one this morning about “the life.” I told him I thought we were lucky to have this peculiar interest and avocation. Nothing we experience or see need be wasted. It is all grist for our hungry little mills. Suffering? Check. Love and loss? Check. Disasters that would make Jesus weep? Check and check. It sounds macabre, and to civilians, it probably is. But you got to dance with the one that brung you, right? The place I can get into trouble is being able to be real and authentic and decent with other people, without losing that objective observer in my head. “Hold that pose, darlin’, I got to go write this down!!” LOL. (I’m exaggerating; that’s never actually happened. But I worry about these things. 🙂 )

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