Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Negotiating with the Muse: Sometimes I Say to a Poem

In an ideal world I would get up at 10, after a leisurely read in bed, scribbling notes in my journal as I read. Then after a lingering bath, I would paint naked with my hands and eat chocolate. A steamy shower would be required afterwards, which may or may not require the attendance of a dexterous lover. Before sleeping the afternoon away, a walk barefoot on the grass, a divine dinner, and then writing fuelled by the midnight oil from ten until 2, or 3am.

But now I am a mama, my creative territory looks a lot different, and my creativity must flow in more constrained circumstances.

I must negotiate with the muse.

One of the quotes that jumped out to me when compiling, The Rainbow Way (which I have just sent off to the publishers!) was Erin Darcy of Starving Artist Ink who referred to her creative muse as a hard mistress, who she had to renegotiate terms with as a mother and insist on no more late night ravaging! Something most of us creative parents can TOTALLY relate to.

I have recently fallen head over heels in love with the work of Hafiz, a thirteenth century Persian Sufi poet. I was reading his book, The Gift, this morning when I came across this poem all about negotiating with the muse, which made me belly laugh (and feel just like a laughing buddha!)

Laughing Buddha. Image from www.heidicries.com

Sometimes I Say to a Poem

Sometimes I say to a poem,
"Not now, 
Can't you see I am bathing!"
But the poem usually doesn't care
And quips,

"Too bad, Hafiz,
No getting lazy - 
You promised God you would help out
And He just came up with this 
New tune."

Sometimes I say to a poem
"I don't have the strength to wring another drop
Of the Sun."

And the poem will often 

By climbing onto a bar-room table: 

Then lifts its skirt, winks, 
Causing the whole sky to 

Sound familiar?!

How has your creative practice, and relationship with the muse had to change as kids, or work has come along? And how do you like to work, given an ideal world? Do share!


  1. Yep! can relate to that, musings in the bath, forcing me to cut short that paradise of hot water and get out and write it down! then theres the ones as you drive along, "erm I'm driving, cant it wait?" NO!" so i go along repeating the lines until they are so stuck in my head that I can think of nothing else! and the midnight oil still burns, as its the only time I get to myself. leaving me a aombified grumbling mother in the morning! - but at least I got it written down! ;) it seems that these are the gaps in my life, where the mind is open to other things than "MOM!can I?"

  2. Yes! Am often writing/sewing/other creating whilst my tot is asleep. There i am, in the flow, everything just forming so naturally, then "waaaah" through the baby monitor. When I get back to my work, the flow is lost. Cue frustrated mama. Plus I'm breastfeeding so, where, in my pre-mama life, I'd be creating away but starting to wane about 11pm so make a strong coffee to power me through a little more, this is not now an option. But, in the scheme of things, it's only for a short time even if we have more children. Plus, a lot of my creative energy goes into things like distracting him from putting his hands in the poo I'm trying to clean off his bum, or making up songs to promote tooth-brushing!

  3. that poem is fabulous, thanks so much for sharing it.



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