Below is the post that got me into the semi-finals at Writer Unboxed. I’m grateful Kathleen and Therese didn’t call it an essay at the time; that word and I are not on the best of terms.
MUSE IS NOT THE BOSS OF ME
I’m in a coffee house and I’m supposed to be writing a blog post that will both inspire other writers and demonstrate my command of the English language. Aside from the eighties tune assaulting my ears, it’s not a lot to ask. Except for one small problem: When I try to go solemn, my muse will not cooperate. She snorts and slaps her jean-clad knee, shows as much enthusiasm about a serious post as my children exhibit upon meeting the vacuum cleaner. She wants to write a subversive poem instead, insists that is what I should send out as my demonstration piece.
I have to ask myself, when did things in this relationship shift? There was a time when I would ask her to do something — in a gentle tone, of course — and she’d comply without a fuss. Then came the era where she’d do it with an eye roll, perhaps even flip me the bird behind my back. I’d pretend ignorance, and we’d carry on and produce.
But in the past year or so, she’s changed. She’s got her drivers’ license, a gorgeous wardrobe—because she inherited the “elegant” gene that skipped my generation—and she wants me to follow her lead. Gosh darn it, she’s even got the better compass.
So guess what I have just done? I wrote the sneaky, rebellious poem she wanted to tackle; I’m tolerating her smirk. I’m coveting her handbag and making plans to buy one on the sly.
I do it because I know from experience, that having been acknowledged and indulged, she’ll now settle down and help me compose the “real” post—the evidence of which is in your hands.
Oh, and the poem we wrote together? I really, really like it. I’m not including it here, because I wish to come across as a writer unboxed, not a writer unstrung, but I cannot regret the effort.
What’s your relationship like with your muse? Are you still engaged in a power struggle? Or have you come to mutually agreeable terms?
I offered to send the poem, should it be of any interest; although you’ll see I’m no Longfellow, there are lines in this that still make me laugh. Happily, although Therese and Kathleen asked to see it, they invited me to submit again!
ODE TO AN ODD APPLICATION
Three hundred words is not a lot,
To inspire and impress,
But I have been a family doc,
Seen much that brought distress.
So in the larger scheme of things,
This isn’t such a big decision,
About whether to go conventional,
Or whether to risk derision.
The latter wins, for though I know the standard way,
To fill out a job application,
Should you truly consider me,
You should understand I like deviation.
Not always, but enough,
It just might be a concern.
See, I like to have fun while exploring a point.
My bridges — do they already burn?
If so, I cannot find regret,
For like a marriage built to last,
Each party should know the other’s quirks,
To, in a metaphoric storm, stand fast.
I also thought to demonstrate,
(Since I’m fond of “show, don’t tell”),
That once you stick your writerly neck out,
You cannot un-ring that bell.
There will be writing risks you take,
That will be well-received,
And others that feel very safe,
But to readers seem ill-conceived.
So in the end my personal belief,
Is we can only do our best,
To serve the art and serve ourselves,
And to hell with all the rest.
In summary, if you want predictable,
I’m probably not your girl,
But if an odd writer you seek to unbox,
My wings please help unfurl.
And now I’m sure you’ll need to confer,
About the suitability of my selection.
Please leave your feedback about the meat of this poem,
Below in the comment section.
Comments or questions, peeps? This is not a complaint, but I’m hungry for a little discussion back in the land of stripes and citrus. If you write, sing, or do anything on the artistic path, what is your relationship like with your muse?