By: Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com
I was a sweet, but scrappy kid. Caught a couple of bruises along the way, but as you can see from the photo, whatever tangle caused the shiner, it wasn’t enough to get me down. I was quick to smile.
That’s how I feel about the writing process. You can’t let challenges get you down. I figure it this way: Writing is fifty percent talent, fifty percent Muse. Both need my undivided attention to stay strong. Every other obstacle will fall away with these two muscles pumped.
As stated above, talent for one’s vocation is a muscle that must be exercised. Otherwise, the gift atrophies. So, I write and write, and write some more. At different times, in different places or adhering to a schedule for a particular project. Whatever works. I do it.
There are talented individuals in every field who never realize their genius because they never exercise their gifts. Worse, some never know they possess unique skills at all. To that end, I highly encourage every thinking soul to explore what excites them. Always investigate topics that pique your interest. My mantra: Honor your passion. (Unless, of course, you are a terrorist or a serial killer. Then I suggest you seek help!)
My passions are writing and public speaking. These are the muscles I exercise. As we all know, the more we work our muscles, the more defined they become.
It is my sly little Muse, however, who until recently had me wrapped around her finger. For way too long I let her govern my work with her whims and fancies. Not any longer. When my editor asked for three more proposals, I realized I could not just wait for my Muse to wave her creative wand. She needed muscling.
So, you ask, how do you muscle your muse? I have three simple but important rules. While they require determination, they are so easy that your Muse won’t even know she/he is being manipulated.
1. LOVE YOUR MUSE. You may say, of course I do! But keep in mind the self-critic can be cruel to our adventurous Muse. No matter what your talent, your individual creative view is unique to you. You have to respect that fact and let nothing damage your self-worth. It is your individuality that makes you one with the world. You might say, Not so. The world would carry on just fine without me. I say, the world might carry on if you were not to love and exercise your muse, but the world–and you–would sadly miss a profound part of creation. Otherwise, why are you here in the first place?
No one else sees the world quite as you do. It’s the Kurt Vonneguts, the Picassos, the daVincis, the Einsteins, the Maria Tallchiefs, the Luciano Pavarottis and Maria Callases, the Stephen Kings, The Kathleen Pickerings (just checking to see if you’re still reading) and YOU who make the world go ‘round.
All artists have their critics. They all have their admirers. Neither matters. You and only you matter to your Muse. If you don’t love what your Muse offers, you will not let him/her create. Your talent will atrophy and you will wonder why you have become a sarcastic and bitter being rather than a shining light.
2. FEED YOUR MUSE. Now that she/he is loving you back, you must feed your Muse. What others call writer’s block, I call a poor diet for the Imagination. The Muse needs exposure to everything delectable—and sometimes things not so tasty in life. That means your Muse accompanies you on your travels. Let her be the finger that taps the keyboard or opens the books on your research. Let your Muse listen in on conversations and initiate a few of her own. Then Listen. Watch. Smell. Touch. Devour. Your Muse will not disappoint you. With love and food, your Muse will be generous in return. You might even get a belch for a good laugh out of the deal. That works, too!
3. LET YOUR MUSE FLY. Muses are flighty creatures. They may burrow. They may forage. But, once they feel safe, they fly. Your job as an artistic soul is to give your Muse the updraft, the cliff’s end, the launch pad to soar. Your Muse may create unusable material at first, but the more he/she exercises the muscles in those wings, the more beautiful the magic dust that will alight from them. Don’t be afraid. (Fear is an awful four letter word that shall not be used.) Love your Muse enough to let him/her take a chance, test an idea. Create. A Muse’s wings may be as delicate as a dragon fly’s or as powerful as an eagle’s. Only by launching from that artistic limb of “what if” will you know which wings your Muse possesses. Think of the freedom!
My artist friend, Kimana Evans, once asked me how I see my myself. I told her that in my dreams I fly. She gifted me with this wonderful water color of me . . . or shall I say, my Muse. (Can you see me flying in the clouds?) I love this artistic expression created by my friend. This painting hangs where I write. It reminds me of my passion, talents and Muse every day.
I’d say I’ve come a long way from that scrappy kid with the shiner! I may have had to muscle my way into a foothold in my creative world, but I have certainly carved out my ground. I know that by honoring my talent and adhering to the rules for my Muse, I will create the impression that I was born to make. So far, the journey has been exciting, challenging and way too much fun to be called work. I am a grateful woman.
So, tell me. What do you do to keep your talent fresh and your Muse loved, fed and flying?
Happy Writing or whatever your talent may be!
PS: By the way, Kimana would be happy to create a painting for you, as well. You can find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Kimana–Evans/ Tell her I sent you.