Brandi Willis Schreiber

Sensual, Southern Romance

Filtering by Tag: Writing

Visiting the Muse

"I don't believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse." - Michael Lewis

Not long ago, I reevaluated my writing routine.  

As in, I didn't have one.  

I waited until inspiration hit me and then hoped that I had a pen and some kind of paper to scribble on.  Most of the times I did not.  Most of the time my best thoughts, ideas, or scenes came to me when I was sweating on the treadmill, getting ready for work, singing my way through traffic, in between emails, or collapsing into bed at night - when I was too tired to pick up a pen anyway. 

When I did have an open space of time (usually on the weekends) and I sat down dutifully at my computer, I held up my hands and said, "OK, inspiration, come to me now!" like a khol-eyed magician with a mustache and long purple cape.  And I waited.  And the blank screen and I stared back at each other. And I decided to go do laundry.

The muse, it seems, liked to tell me things when it was convenient for her.

Well, how rude.   

Of me.
Asking inspiration to come to me, only when I was ready for it, was like asking a butterfly to alight on my hand.  It was all demand and no patience; a self-centered approach to putting thoughts on a page that negated the Love and Mystery associated with creativity.

The idea of the muse dates back to c. 700 B.C., when the Greek poet Hesiod wrote his Theogony (literally, the birth of the gods), an account of how all things began in the world. Hesiod writes of an encounter he had on Mount Helicon with the Muses - the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who were believed to be the inspirers of all things artistic and skilled.  In his epic poem, Hesiod asks each of the Muses to inspire him.  But they have their own requests, as well:

" ... and from a laurel in full bloom they plucked a branch,
 ... and then breathed into me
divine song, that I might spread the fame of past and future,
and commanded me to hymn the race of the deathless gods,
but always begin and end my song with them."

It seems in this ancient tradition that the Muses expected reciprocity in this relationship.  I will give to you if you will give to me in return.

Waiting for my muse to visit me - as with waiting for any hope, any change, any dream - will only result in frustration, disappointment, and lost opportunities.

Instead, I'm adopting a new approach:  I'm visiting my muse.  I'm asking first if I may visit, and when I do, I bring along the good manners, small gifts, and gratitude that any good house guest would.  I don't demand anymore; I ask.  I spend time with my muse.  I listen to what she has to say.  I am reveling in the relationship that is slowly starting to develop.

And it turns out that my muse is quite happy to have company.

On Hidden Things

She was discovered on April 8, 1820 by a peasant farmer named Yorgos Kentrotas.  Kentrotas was digging through the ruins of Milos, and he found her in pieces beneath the crumbled village.  He immediately knew she was valuable:  carved of marble, she is ethereally beautiful.  Towering above six feet, her lines are all graceful curve and strength.  A likely representation of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, she exuded powerful presence and something otherworldly, even in pieces. 

Created sometime between 130 and 100 BC, she waited almost 1900 years to be discovered by the modern world, but her reintroduction was delayed.  Kentrotas, the peasant farmer, hid her in pieces in his barn.  He knew that she was more than aesthetically important, a god object that represented more than he could understand; she was valuable monetarily.  And so she waited, in his coveting.

What did Kentrotas do, while he waited for the right offer?  Did he sit in his barn with her for hours, admiring her, as Greeks would have done 1900 years earlier when she would have been displayed on a pedestal, moving her viewers to acts of awe and worship?  Did he stare at her face and wonder about her creator,  her origin, what her embodiment in human form could be?  In those dark, cool hours, was there a mystic inspiration she passed to him, goddess of love and beauty that she was, that inspired more revelry?  Or did he keep her hidden for himself, out of panic that once the Ottoman authorities discovered her, she would be ripped from his presence, or worse, that his life would be endangered for hiding her at all?

Or worst of all:  did he simply look at her, chunks of female form in marble, and wonder how much he could get for each strike of the chisel?

One reason that the Venus de Milo has always affected me so is because I find she represents all that we keep hidden.  She is the beautiful talent, the craft, that we were given to share with the world.  These glorious things that we have to offer were meant to be on display, to move others to thought and action.  She also represents what we have stolen away:  the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden in the barn because we are afraid of revealing them, of having them taken away from us, or worse, that we selfishly believe are ours alone.  We can be the ones who ought to fight for her ransom, to restore her to the world.  But we can also be the ransomer:  the fearful one who leaves her in pieces in a dark room, her glory hidden, waiting for the right price.

As this new year turns over, I find myself asking how I will restore my Venus de Milo to the world and what a brave fight that will be.