Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fighting My Muse

When people ask me about my poetry, I often tell them that I save poetry for myself. I don't study it. I don't write for an audience, per se. I write what I want, when I want, and how I want. I don't pay attention to form or technique or any of that stuff. This is true.  It is the one thing I never force and only write when inspired.Often my poetry is self-indulgent. I readily admit that. However, I think the themes are universal themes of humanity.

I thought about this yesterday as I finally gave in to my muse - that little voice in my head that nags the crap out of me until I write down what she wants me to write. You men who think you have nagging wives, you don't know nagging, trust me. My muse could give your wives lessons that would make your arm hairs stand on end and possibly try to run away.

Often this nagging begins as a simple phrase such as the one she'd been whispering in my ear for the past two weeks or so. "I Broke My Own Heart." I ignored her. I told her to get over it. I told it was a ridiculous statement. People don't break their own hearts... Come on. But still the words played on an endless loop. They popped up at the most inopportune times. They drove me to tears, well almost. I wrote them down once but nothing else came. I marked them out so ferociously I ripped the paper. Then I tore the paper in half. I scolded my muse and told her to move on to something else. She refused, and so those words, I broke my own heart, remained on their endless loop following me, haunting me, taunting me...

Finally, almost angrily, I wrote them on a piece of paper yesterday and stared at them. I broke my own heart. Again the word ridiculous went through my mind. Then I asked my muse "Now what?" She said "Shhh!" I rolled my eyes and pressed the point of the pen into the legal pad. I held my breath. Then as I exhaled, the words took form on the paper. There they were. It was a poem. Hhmmm! My muse was right again.

This isn't the first time this has happened. It's happened many, many times. And, I always think I can win the fight against my muse. Ha! Ha! Joke's always on me.

Last October, the words "When We Were a We" started playing in my head. I wrote them down. I marked them out. I tore the paper into tiny pieces. I finally wrote a whole poem that had me bawling like a starving baby. I read it again and again. Eventually I decided no one, not even me, would ever see those words again. I sent it through the paper shredder and deleted it from my files. But, those five words were still in my head. I jotted them on another sheet of paper and walked away. In the middle of the night, those words woke me up and refused to let me sleep. When We Were A We. They sang in my head as I did household chores. They interrupted the songs I listened to - songs I used to intentionally drown them out. They invaded other things I wrote. They even tried to come out of my mouth when I was speaking about something totally unrelated. They whispered when I was silent. They screamed when I tried to ignore them.  Finally, I wrote them down once again and a poem poured out of me. This one I kept. This one I will share in one of my forthcoming books of poetry.

This has happened many times with me. I resist what I know I must write. I fight what I don't want to face. I tell myself writing it will be selfish, self-indulgent, needy, whiny, belligerent, etc. What I mean by any of those excuses is that writing it makes me feel vulnerable in some way. There's that word again. Vulnerable. It just keeps cropping up in my life. Well, I guess I've haven't accomplished as much as I thought when it comes to vulnerability.

And, that brings me back to my poetry. In a recent post, I referenced the idea that these books of poetry will show the world the truth of me. It is my hope that by exposing the truth of me, my words help someone else who is struggling with the challenges life brings. If so, then those poems will serve a double purpose. They will have helped me in my journey to find my own truth, and they will help someone else. Then sharing them will be worth it even if they do make me feel vulnerable.

There are certain poems that are almost certain to shock some. There are others that will likely resonate on a deep level with some. There are some that will anger some people. There may even be a few that will make people laugh. There are some that may confuse some people who think they know me particularly well. There are poems that will likely have no impact at all on some.

If you've played a significant role in my life, you just might recognize yourself though I've tried to write most of my poems without true identifiers. It's really not always possible to write a poem in a way that disguises the people involved from everyone. Some events are just too specific for that.

So, I'd like to say I'm writing this post to acknowledge my muse's power and that I'll quit fighting her; however, I think we all know that the next time I don't want to write what she tells me to write, I'll fight her just as hard. I'm stubborn, hardheaded, and prone to willful blindness when I don't want to face something. My muse, however, is the inner voice that forces me to not only face it but deal with it using words. So I guess I have to love her no matter how much she forces me to expose my vulnerabilities.

Here's to my muse always winning... Funny how her wins end up being wins for me too... At least, I think they do...

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