A muse is a fickle creature. Mine, especially. There have been times when I've been overwhelmed with the ideas the muse has dredged out of my sub-conscious... and then there are times where the damned thing has galivanted off for so long, you fear the inspiration is gone forever. But the love of a muse has kept many a writer going for years, and I credit mine for healing a hole in my soul I didn't know I even had.
As I work in my computer room, staring at my monitor blankly, the half written fragments of sentences on my screen, cursing as I delete ANOTHER section of text for not coming out right, I hear her whisper in my ear as I stare at the screen, typing out random words that I try to build into a coherent whole. "That's not the way it happens, Dave". She says, her whispered words sliding against the back of my neck, causing my flesh to crawl slightly.
I feel her slim, tiny hands, rubbing my shoulders... her fingers relieving the knots of stress caused by staring at a computer screen for hours on end. But the words she breathes do their part to cause new pockets of stress to appear. "No matter how hard you TRY, without the right combination, your ideas; your thoughts will remain there, in your head. You just won't be able to find the words to express yourself properly. You'll write a paragraph within seconds, and just as quickly erase it from the world. It's like the right words don't exist."
Now, it may be a part of my New England background, us nor'easters can be pretty darn stubborn creatures (kind of like the muse, now that I think about it), and I continue to stare at the screen, knowing that the words are THERE, just it's a matter of getting them out on paper. I know this is important. I know why I continue to try to do this. And I know why I can't. And that just makes it worse.
I try everything. Free-word association. Listening to music, and trying to build off the lyrics. Even watch a sexy film and try to turn that into words for a proper erotic story. And just outside the corner of my vision, I know she's there, shaking her head sorrowfully, knowing that unless I break through my personal wall, there is no chance that I can pull it off.
Finally... I spin in my chair, and look at her... and sigh, and for the first time, ask my muse directly for help... "Why? Why can't I find the words to express myself? I feel the emotions, I mean... it's there... but it's not. It's been almost four months since... since Tabitha and I split up... and in that time, it's like I'm a faucet that's been shut off at the source. No matter how many times I turn the handle, there's nothing coming out."
She avoids looking at me directly. She knows how much this hurts me... still... For weeks after our last fight, I was stuck in an emotional funk. It didn't help that I had seen it coming for weeks and weeks prior, I had stuck it out, hoping to find something to turn things around. Instead, every time we talked, afterwards, I would find myself analyzing what I had said, wondering what I had said wrong. But even seeing it coming, it hit me hard.
"It's because you haven't dealt with the emotions of your breakup properly", she whispers. Her quiet voice has sunk even lower, barely registering as sound and thought. Despite being barely audible, each of her words hits me like a sledgehammer in the gut, each word reopening painful gulfs in my heart, tearing open a barely healed in my soul.
The words spill out, almost reflexively, a defense mechanism intended to try to cover up the holes my Muse has opened up in me. "That's impossible. I mean, it's not like I spend hours and hours on end staring at her picture or anything. I've been out on dates since then. Sure, everything isn't 100%, but who is?"
She sighs, and her voice firms slightly, and changing timbers. Instead of it sounding like a friend sharing your sorrows, it now sounds more like a doctor telling you that even if you feel better, you have to take the medicine until all the pills are gone. "Yes... you've dealt with the sense of loss. The sense of missing someone to hold in the middle of the night. The feelings that, somehow, someway, you caused all of this to happen. You've managed to even convince yourself that love still exists, and that somewhere down the road, you'll find someone. But that isn't enough. There's still another part you haven't touched. That's your wall. That's the part you have to get through before the words in your head will make sense on the screen."
To say I'm silenced by her words is an understatement. I practically ABSORB sound. I want to scream at her, that she can't understand how I feel. That there were nights that I couldn't SLEEP. That one time I found an audio file with my name on it on my computer, clicked on it, and heard her voice telling me how much she loved me, that she wished I didn't have to work so hard... and I broke down and cried. FOR TWENTY MINUTES. How I had to build a wall and keep the emotions away, until I could deal with them, and slowly rebuilding my life. How could this... this figment of my imagination tell me that I hadn't gone through all the emotions of my breakup?
But after taking a deep breath and preparing to blast my muse with a stream of invective so profane that it would make a Marine drill Sergeant blush and cover his ears... I take a look inside of my soul. And I realize she's right. There's still something there, and I don't know what it is, or how to get it out. And I look back at my muse, as she sits on the corner of my computer table, her auburn hair framing her face... but for the first time, there's a hint in her face of hope. Of optimism. Somehow, this encourages me, keeps the pain of the past at bay. And I try to figure out what she means.
My muse shakes her head slightly, and a little bit of exasperation seeps into her voice as she tries to explain it to me. "When you write the good stuff. The laughter. The loving. The FEELINGS... The sexy stuff, too. It reminds you of her, doesn't it? And you've hurt so much, that you associate the good with the bad. It hurts to be happy, why try, right?"
There is a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit. I can't swallow it down, no matter how much I try. My heart is beating a mile a minute. The truth is laid bare... but this a truth I've seen before. Why is there something missing still? What is still missing? Why can't I go past this last barrier?
"You need to take one more step, David, and I can't help you with that. But here's the thing. Whenever you think about what you two had, it's a sad thing, because you had it and lost it. What's missing is the happiness that you two had it in the first place. You know the Shakespear quote, "tis better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all?" You've lost track of that."
As I sit in my chair... she sighs and slides off the desk. "That's what's missing, David. That's what you need. Be grateful for what you two had. For the love shared. Rather then think about loss, think about how lucky you were to have that love to start. Until you accept that, until you stop associating love with lost love, you can't write about it." With that, she walks out of the room, fading away into nothingness before she even hits the doorway. She's done all she can. Now it's up to me, I guess.