Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wanted: One Muse

It appears that my inlaws made off with my muse—perhaps luring her away with promises of a lovely sari. She’s always been a bit vain, that one.

Or maybe she’s off in a corner, sulking after being all-but-ignored this week. I didn’t think it would happen. I allow myself to dream the same dream whenever relatives come by—that I’ll have time to myself, time to write without the fire at my back of knowing that, at any moment, Madam might need me.

It never works out that way.

My inlaws are nice enough people—stereotypically Indian in their love of elaborate meals (seriously, I sent TEG a text message at 10am one of the first mornings saying simply “three dishes made already”) and loathing of the snowy weather. They prowled around my too-small apartment, alternately playing with Madam and bemoaning the cold. Thank goodness I had the foresight to hook up Zee TV, thus allowing them to follow all of their favorite (albeit cheesy) Indian soap operas without a break in the action.

They are also stereotypically Indian in their deep grained distrust of a need of “privacy.” If I were to ease myself into another room for a moment, say, to sneak a quick peek at my manuscript, inevitably a relative would troop in, asking if “everything was fine? Are you hungry?”

So. Not so much with the writing at all this week. It always amazes me how quickly it can all be snuffed out, how fragile and tentative this new writing-self of mine is. One week can feel like I’m teetering on the brink of that old void of wordlessness where I lived for so long.

I hate that.

My imagination is an old jalopy, rusting by the side of the road. Fly droppings caking on the blistering paint. I try to kick start it, using my favorite methods. Beloved comfort reading, blogs, Sunday Scribblings.


So back to the comfort reading I go. Did you all know there is an annotated version of Anne of Green Gables? If you are a fan (and you MUST be. No, really.) go check it out.

Finding the Anne books was like seeing myself in print for the first time. Not the workaday, commonplace self. None of the surface details match—I don’t have red hair (although I’ve always longed for it), I’m not an orphan (thank heavens). But…Anne reflected something essential in me—celebrated all those parts of me which usually met with an eyeroll from my more Marilla-like parents—the nonstop talking (and the allusions to books I’d never read and words I’d never heard spoken), the naming of things all around me.

I always found Anne’s rapturous pleasure in the beauty all around her inspirational. I knew just how she felt. Sure, she spoke of Lombardies and birch paths and Lakes of Shining Waters instead of faces streaming past on a busy city street, music trailing behind cars like a perpetual parade. She didn’t see the houses clustered on top of each other the way I did, the jagged skyline jutting into the sky, those buildings and their shadows surrounding me like benevolent mountains.

But it was beautiful to me, probably because it was all I knew. I don’t think you have to teach children to love their surroundings, to see them as beautiful. I think, alas, that too often people learn to be ashamed of them as adults.

While in college, I mentioned to a friend how much I loved the energy of Harvard Square, because it echoed something of the place where I’d grown up. She replied, disdainfully, that she thought Harvard Square was a slum.

Anne looked at her small town of Avonlea and saw beauty. I looked at my big so-called slum and saw the same.

Something I need to remember today, when it’s my mind that is the slum, sullen and unwilling to give me the soul food I need.

And so I sit, and wait for Myrtle, my muse, to return, perhaps draped in clouds of red sari glory and brimming with stories to tell.



Anonymous Frida said...

Okay - it wasn't the writing you wanted to be doing, but this is a lovely piece of writing. Your in-laws are invoked with affection, a little frustration, humour and clarity.

Everyone loves Anne of Green Gables, if they say they don't then they are lying. I'm sure of it. I like your observation about children's love and appreciation of their surroundings. Mine were pretty picturesque (rural NZ with frollicking lambs in spring etc) but I have no problem believing that a child can find the beauty and wonder in any setting.

May Myrtle return today.

2:19 AM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Leah said...

yes, i agree with frida, this is a lovely piece of writing.

i adore anne of green gables. she made quite an impression on me as a girl.

your muse may seem to be absent, but she might just be slumbering, preparing herself for all the creativity about to spurt forth. like cameron says, even our art has its seasons. so bundle up, i'm sure something is percolating and about to bloom. xoxoxo

8:02 AM, April 15, 2007  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

When Myrtle returns, could you ask her if she's seen my muse (yet unnamed). She's been missing for, oh I don't know, a couple of years? I see so many women rejoice over Anne. I have an antique copy of her book sitting on a shelf here, rescued from a dumpster when my mother moved. (I suspect her hired hand tossed it without asking.) Tried to read a few pages, but alas, she speaks to others, not me.

P.S. And, yes, this is--as always--a lovely piece of writing.

8:25 AM, April 15, 2007  
Anonymous tammy vitale said...

Tagged you today (4/15) for a Thinking Blogger tag over on my blog.

And I hate to admit that I've never read Anne of Green Gables - I was too busy reading Walter Farley Black Stallion and Island Stallion books. Oh, and Margaret Henry (Misty of Chincoteague fame).

8:49 AM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Maddie said...

that's why you and i are such kindred spirits -
Anne and Saree's -


10:27 AM, April 15, 2007  
Anonymous Literary Bohemian said...

I just adore what you wrote about your imagination. It's poetic in it's imagery. It's really wonderful.

3:42 PM, April 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting observations about how your IL affect your ability to connect with your muse. I can imagine that it'd be frustrating, but your muse will return-- refreshed by her time off.

6:43 PM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Jessie said...

Hey you silly girl...your muse is right here on this blog page. Don't you see her? I do. And she's writes beautifully!

9:28 PM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger deirdre said...

Oh, I think your muse was just have a rest and keeping quiet track of all the stories she saw unfolding around her.

Yes, I agree that beauty is to be found everywhere. I love the summer-gold hills of California, the same ones that people from out of the area see as brown and dry.

11:18 PM, April 16, 2007  

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