for my regular readers you will know that my life theme since moving hemispheres nearly three years ago has been ‘conflict and contradiction’. i’ve been traveling a road towards self fulfilment — not striving for perfection — attempting to align my values with my behaviour, filling my life with my favourite things … the things that are meaningful to me. if i’m being truly honest with myself (and you) my free spirit took flight long ago. now, it is time to soar towards another stratosphere of sorts. conflict resolved; contradictions untangled, may the winds catch my creative spirit and wisp me away.
where am i going with this? read on please.
this year i have succumbed to homesickness and the vulnerability such an emotion brings. i have also acknowledged that in turning 30 i am going to start living my life by my own accord. social convention and its infiltrated pressures be damned, i trudged through 10 years of a lost girl to fish out drowned ideals and dreams, rung them dry only to now run amuck with experimental playfulness. consolidating my ethics, principles and values, my current life story tells a tale of a laughing, recluse vegan who wants to fix the broken promise she made to herself as a little girl. what promise to myself did i break? to be published by a penguin.
you can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are. (eckhart tolle)
a couple of months ago a friend joked that i was not a writer because i did not write anything. it baffled me because i had been telling him for over a year that all he needed to do to realise his own writing potential was to get over his apprehension of putting his words on paper. here i was being challenged by my own fear: the fear of saying “i want to be a writer”. i thought it was a silly statement to say out loud. i thought “everyone wants to be a writer — no one will be interested in reading my words”. but then i realised — this is the only thing i have ever been sure of. and after 30 years of yearning what have i done about it? nothing.
i write letters. i adore my penpals. i have boxes filled with journals, their pages chronicling two decades worth of material. i used to write for a newspaper. i even won a poetry contest once. i started this blog two years ago as a means to share and submit. yet nothing has had more kick-me-in-the-butt impact than julia cameron’s book the artist’s way. recommended to me by a dear friend who herself is navigating through self-development, the book professes a 90-day, self-led creative recovery process that encourages daily, steadfast and honest writing.
and then it clicked. in committing to this 12-week writing exercise (which is a big commitment for this flippant bird!) i began developing my own fictitious muse. her life became my motivation; her struggles became my learnings. her character is not only filling my blank pages but it is fuelling my esteem. every detail about her is unconsciously shaped by my own philosophy. her despair and drama, happiness and hope fused by the influence and inspiration of those that have captured my imagination. with each day i became to know her more. and after spending 90 days with her i love her so. her name is lucy and she is quite the lass.
by now you must think “is she loopy?” i’m not at all. we don’t think children are loco when they introduce us to their make-believe friends. we don’t think artists are obsessed when they photograph the same subject matter a hundred times over. these examples are all muses. for the writer in me, mine just happens to be a fictitious one.
in literary terms a muse is considered to be a genius or guiding spirit for the author or poet. such a figure of inspiration is derived from the muses, the greek daughters of zeus and mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. there were nine of them all of whom are believed to be the original patrons to the poets and mistresses of apollo, the god of music:
- euterpe, the patron of lyric poetry
- calliope, the lady of epic poetry
- clio, the bearer of history
- terpisichore, the rhythm of choral songs and dance
- melpomene, the metaphorical cloud of tragedy
- erato, the fonder of love poetry
- polyhymnia, the keeper of sacred poetry
- thalia, the voice of laughter
- and urania, the eyes of astronomy
my literary inspiration will never reach the epic scale of homer and his iliadic muse but in lucy i take comfort, i find my inner genius. perhaps the only way to describe this sentiment is to quote something i read recently by luke ryan, a writer for one my favourite men’s magazines, smith journal. in a tribute article about ralph mcquarie, the illustrator who gave life to george lucas’ star wars fantasies, ryan writes:
the world turns on the efforts of quiet men. on the work of men who shift the course of history without ever becoming its object. men relegated to the background by their more extroverted peers, but whose diligence, talent and perseverance manage to irrevocably change the landscape without anyone quite realising it’s happening.
for me, my inner world has shifted because of my quiet muse. i look forward to christmas when i can sit in holiday house along the bass strait and test my own diligence, talent and perseverance by reacquainting myself with lucy, this enigmatic beauty that i have created. i will surf in the early mornings, do yoga midday then sketch, scribble and scrawl until late into the night. ultimately, i will walk the pages of my notebook to see if there is a story to tell because i really do think lucy is someone who you would like to meet. and even if she stays a secret — if this is the only time i mention her in script — well, i have appreciated the writing process. i have appreciated her.
jason hynes, an english artist says of his work: “mystery is important — without it life would be intolerable.” wise words indeed, but i would like to add that imagination is important too for without it, our muses would never come to life.