Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!
(Let The Good Times Roll!)
Think about it. The incalculable hours you’ve invested in writing, day after day, month after month. The tedious revisions. The unmerciful deadlines. Time…there’s never enough of it.
While your characters enjoy life, love, and fulfillment, you, on the other hand, are set adrift in a world where perspectives, oft times, become blurred by conflicts of home, family, and the near-desperate pursuit of a gainful writing career. Let me just finish this project, you plead with hands pressed against the floodgates, holding back a tide that threatens to mire you in a writer’s slump.
Stop! Back away from the computer. When was the last time you penciled in “quality of life” on your calendar? It’s time to get a grip. You need a break. Though you may not think you deserve the luxury of recreation, it’s an absolute requisite for your Muse.
So many of us are of the assumption that time management applies only to the work part of life’s work-play equation. In reality, the same discipline is vitally important for managing both.
Everyone needs to schedule their allotted time to decompress. Your Muse demands it. So bare your chest, let the hair fly, shed the inhibitions, and…
Seriously! The Muses do keep a busy schedule, but they cannot function without quality partying. In his Theogony, Hesiod often spotted them hanging out on Mount Helicon making fair, lovely dance with vigorous feet. And in those days, of course, they’d spent a great deal of time on Mount Olympus where it’s said their dad, Zeuse, delighted them with parties and feasts.
Little has changed in the last two or three thousand years. When these Goddesses are not dancing to the heart-pounding beat of a Beyonce video, they’re jetting off to New Orleans to enjoy Carnival — a term fittingly derived from the Latin Carnivale – “farewell to flesh.” So liberate your soul, bare your chests, and take a lesson from your Muses. Lighten up. Have a little fun!
Do you doubt that Mardi Gras is exactly where your muses are right now?! What? Do you think they’d sit, day after day, raking a hand through tangled hair, trying to plot an escape from that corner you’ve painted yourself into? Forget it! They’re down here, on the bayous, lapping up our own particular brand of creative juices while reigniting flames of new inspiration. Is there proof of this, you ask? Hmm… Does Cinderella pick pumpkin pulp from a spackled slipper after midnight?
Not only is their proof, but as it turns out, your Muses have a Mardi Gras parade all their own. Naturally, it’s called – “The Krewe of Muses.” And like Cinderella, their sparkling hand-decorated shoes are their trademark. In addition to glittering high heels, these Greek Goddesses throw all sorts of goodies to their legions of fans, chief among them — writers, poets, artists, musicians and philosophers. While the Krewe of Muses is strictly composed of women, men (in the tradition of courtly love) are irresistibly drawn to this exceedingly popular celebration. Why? In the words of British Poet Robert Graves, “No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident…”
[By the way, the Krewe of Muses is more than glitter and heels. In the spirit of their namesake, this wonderful group of selfless women have lent support and special recognition to the arts and artists of the community. As well, their organization has generously contributed countless hours and thousands of dollars in charitable work benefiting women and children.]
But I see some of the excessive compulsive workaholics among you remain unconvinced. You believe the source of inspiration comes purely from within, and like the carnival, the Muses are but some romantic folly. Must I remind you…? Ancient Mesopotamian rule avers that the Muse Goddess is the wellspring of ALL prose. The Muses – daughters of Zeus, King of Gods – are the true speakers for whom an author is merely the mouthpiece.
I warn you, do not tempt the Muses on this point. King Pierus, for example, once tried and failed. This Macedon ruler named his nine daughters after the Muses believing their skills were superior. He foolishly challenged the Muses to a match, and as result, all nine of the King’s daughters were transformed into finches and magpies.
Then there was Thamyris of Dorium. The minstrel who boasted mastery over the Muses in a contest and lost. He wagered if he should be vanquished by the Muses, then they may take from him whatever they wished. For his arrogance, he first lost his eyes, then his mind.
And what of the Sirens who chose to compete with the Muses in song. After defeating them, the Muses plucked the Sirens’ feathers and now wear them in ornament as crowns upon their heads.
Is it worth the risk of rebuffing a Muse’s decree for fun and celebration, thus finding yourself without a mind, blind, and featherless, dining for grubs on the forest floor ? Hey, I’m not making this stuff up here. It’s documented history.
I love these mischievous little nymphs, these nine daughters of Zeus. Look at all they do for us and still, they find time to feast on life. But of course, there are still some among you who pay no homage to the ancient goddesses of literature. Instead, you offer deference to graven images, idols, or effigies. You perceive yourself a contemporary writer whose inspiration is derived from a Muse, self styled to fit your own personality. A vogue, cutesy ceramic clown or some fluffy stuffed doll. Hey! Okay! That’s fine. Actually, it doesn’t really matter who or what the manifestation. It’s your Muse.
But may I offer a bit of caution… Every Muse needs time off. If you deny them their rightful time for pause – to enjoy life, and decompress – then you’ll find your inspired prose will become ruled by the muse on the right.