The Elusive Muse

The studio is breezy, crisp as December sings
Papers drift, temptation blank, to see what muse might bring.
Clients’ work delivered, banking, billing done
So I can have the afternoon to let the muses run.
The evening is promised to the husband who complains
that we don’t see each other often when others pick my brains
or soul or heart or fingers worn down to the bone.
He needs some real attention, he’s been too long alone.

I have all day! The studio calls, but then the cats begin

The memory of fireflies, Ink on paper. © Quinn McDonald

The memory of fireflies, Ink on paper. © Quinn McDonald

they want their food, the litter scooped, and then the doorbell rings.
The postman wants a signature, and when I turn to go
into the hall, I sneeze, and the top button blows.
I sew it up, and while I have the needle and the thread,
I might as well sew up the cuffs on the pants left on the bed.
The postman left a package, Lizzy sent the jacket
to try and get some feedback, so I unwrap the packet.
And type up notes to send her, she works hard at her art
I can’t just leave her hanging, so I finish what I start.

Now, back to work, chasing the muse, she waits, whistling, for me.
On my way there, I take the wash, my arms just can’t stay free.
I sort the clothes, the machine churns, the suds are getting clean
the clothing, but the towels, too, take turns in the machine.
Bathrooms beckon, I fetch the towels and throw rugs while I’m there,
Bring them down and pile them up, and now, it’s my time’s share.

I pull the stool, and flare the sheet of handmade paper crisp
I sigh with pleasure at the feel, but sniff a smoky wisp.
The brownies I’ve been timing for my spouse while he’s out shopping
are burning in the oven, timer’s ring too soft to get me hopping.
Quick, before he comes back home, whip up another batch,
The ones I burned were walnut, these are plain, but will he catch
this slip? Maybe not, but I want time, the clock says almost four
I slip into the studio and ignore the crumbs left on the floor.

You know the rest, you’ve been there too, I never find the muse
The truth: those distractions are those that I, distracted, choose.
Because my art is silent, its voice echoes from mine
And it won’t speak until I stand, and declare “This is my own time.”

—Quinn McDonald is chasing her muse. Again.

20 thoughts on “The Elusive Muse

  1. Oh, boy, Quinn! You said a mouthful! I spent a day very like that one today, with the added wrinkle of babysitting my granddaughters today and tomorrow (their parents are preparing to move into their new home). And I. Am. EXHAUSTED! Fortunately, my other daughter (“Auntie”) has them overnight, so now I’m catching my breath. After a nice, luxurious bath, WITH bubbles! I will be–you guessed it! Jumping into bed, who am I kidding? Crawling into bed and resting up for the rigors of the morrow. What was I thinking….?

  2. Dear Quinn,
    Once again your words totally connected with the thoughts, challenges, realities of my “giving and receiving” studio, uninterrupted creative time with my muse. My inner critic persona sit in waiting for every commitment to such a time; I have now a small notebook where I write each and ever thought, idea, construct devised by that persona to get me to bail from my commitment to, say, three hours in the studio. With practice and attention to writing and seeing the interrupting tactics I am making, at long last, progress in giving my muse those three hour opportunities to fly freely and show me some great stuff.
    Thank you for this affirming gift of your words….you totally support my processes with creativity and expression and I am ever grateful for your gift of salient words.

  3. Sounds like me. Easily distracted by other things. Wanting to play and make art and sit with my muse, but she is not quite as loud as the rest of them. So another day goes by without much creative inspiration. Sigh. Why do we do that to ourselves?

      • If you mean the second law of thermodynamics, working harder is not going to change it!

        If you mean Shannon Entropy, on the other hand, that’s almost the opposite, and besides being possibly the dumbest name he could have picked for it, actually refers to information content — that is, the more entropy, the more meaning (sort of).

        The urban folklore about why Shannon called this “entropy” is that John von Neumann (I think) advised him to “work in entropy, that way nobody will understand what you’re talking about”.

    • “Amused” ahahahah! Wrong muse, I need that %&^**! book-writing muse! Ever since I was a child, I have been able to write doggerel really quickly. I used to think it was poetry and was so disappointed to discover it’s not. On the other hand, it made me a big hit in corporations at holiday time, when I could write a poem for a newsletter or a contest really quickly.

  4. Remember when we were kids waiting for something exciting like a party; the more we hung around waiting, the longer it took to happen? And then we would get scared we would miss it? It sounds like there’s something major brewing away in there, and you are not ready for it, so take time out and cuddle your husband, make cookies, see people; these are all worthwhile things that do need doing, so don’t feel guilty because you have done them instead of sitting writing! When the time is right your inner muse will take over. She won’t let you down, but chasing after her won’t make it happen before its meant to.
    So tell the IC this is your time, for you not him, and you choose to pay attention to and enjoy the other important things in your life!

    • Your story sounds so very much nicer, I think I’ll believe it! Unfortunately, I procrastinated getting started, for the oldest reason in my excuse bag–I wanted it to be perfect. So now I”m up against a tough deadline that won’t change, and I have to work like a muse-inspired demon to make the deadline. Totally my doing, alas.

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