On writing and the elusive Muse

It’s been over 2 months since my last post. It turns out that the corporate world and dream-chasing, and inspiration (the Gabriel Garcia Marquez kind) do not play well. The relationship between my Muse and I is complicated at best. And even that could be an understatement. Think, you and onions, nice for your food but cutting them is another story. Think, Besigye and Mzee. :-)

There was a time, so long ago that memory fails to grasp any inkling of it, when she (yes, she) and I were one Hercules on a creative battlefield. We swept aside bored, tired and unimaginative phrases or lines of thought with as much indifference as you’d muster when flicking an ant off the side of your glass of milk. We were gods, creating our own big bangs, except that instead of subatomic particles, we smashed together syllables and adjectives to form a quaint delirium, like it must have been at the beginning of time (the initial singularity to the physics buffs).

So, what exactly happened?

To understand this, it is important that we go back to the beginning. You see, I was never a writer or even reader. I read my first novel when I was 13 (thanks to J.K Rowling). Up until that time, let’s just say that I held books in very little regard. To me they were regurgitated, restrictive and limiting prisons whose fun and excitement would always pale into nothingness next to the real world. How can a retold experience be more exciting than one you live with all your senses? I thought that no matter how well someone described the taste of honey to you, you’d never truly experience it. So, you can imagine why it took 3 more years before I could really start writing. By this time too, I had other reasons to take up writing.

When you are an overly curious/inquisitive 16 year old, there are too many ways to express yourself. When you are 16 and an introvert though, the choices dwindle down to at most 2 or 3. Mine came down to writing. And a chance discovery of poetry, courtesy of an equally eccentric (read inquisitive), lanky and introverted Sydney Mugerwa. It is this love affair with poetry that started an almost ferocious period of writing.

Over the years, this flame would be kept alive by various Muses, each in her unique form. First was a scorching, soul-twisting raw desire to just create things, make things out of nothing. Just like that! It was like I had discovered this new canvas with beautiful paint to boot, and felt that with the two, I could paint very life into existence. It was a god-complex that, like any new infatuated flame, never lasted – as it should be expected.

Then, there was Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paulo Coelho, Grace Nichols, and Elizabeth Browning interspersed with Sydney Sheldons, John Grishams and Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths. The greatest of these Muses though ended up being quite alive. As in human, but with the sort of qualities (celestial, I thought at the time) that would drive any real man to the madness of creating a new language if that were what it took to truly express how he felt. There was even an entire blog in 2008 that was created and dedicated solely to impressing said lady (a story I will never tell). The blog lasted (it’s activity at least) for as long as the magical madness.

As is the nature of things to not last forever, each of these flames/Muses were extinguished. But their death, especially the last ones excluding the very last one, did not command the heart-wrenching kind of sorrow and loss you feel when, say your one-time-favourite author pens a book like The Painted House. No, it was a content and welcome pain to be replaced by a dull and creative laziness – a festering of very un-sexy phrases and wanting descriptions.

I do not know how to get back on that proverbial horse. Well, I actually do. I have learnt that any creative process that will birth anything of note must be pursued with the solitude of monks. In there, in the seeming emptiness you find the creative genius. But solitude requires, well, solitude – mentally and physically; the kind of thing you end up sacrificing when chasing impossible dreams and trying to make a life. Not to mention the bombardment of information everywhere we look.

That said, I am willing to try; to throw a stone in the bush and see what comes out. And this is one of seven stones that shall be thrown this week. Thanks Joel (@nevender) for posing the 7-day/7-posts blogging challenge.

Now, how to wake that vindictive sleeping giant that is my Muse…?

Playlist: An assortment of Indian, Afghan, Iranian, German and Arabic music that a friend shared with me recently. I don’t understand a word of it but it doesn’t sound so bad.

Reading list: Still struggling to finish Mitnick’s Ghost In The Wires. Good story so it must be the writing.

2 thoughts on “On writing and the elusive Muse

  1. Sockies!!!

    My friend, starting that late, you have actually read. I don’t even come close!!

    Your muses are always female?

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