My calendar is a visor, blocking my view of the world as I drive through it. It’s a stale cracker, and I can’t taste the protein bar I nosh at stoplights. It’s a pair of mittens, numbing the feeling of the steering wheel beneath my grip. It’s a clamp on my nose, pinching out the aroma of French fries that wafts into my car windows from the diner on the block. And it’s a set of earplugs; did someone just holler my name as I turned the corner?
My calendar generates a sensory deprivation experience. I blame it for my lack of sight, taste, feeling, smell, and hearing as I drive in and out of my days. Or maybe I’ve let the schedule—and all its demands—drive me.
But no matter who’s driving whom, today I have to take control and put the brakes on my calendar. It dulls my senses and overpowers my creativity if I’m not careful, and I have a blog to write—and other words to knit together for more deadlines too.
A word lights up my brain now.
Muse. First coming from Greek and Roman mythology, the word’s meaning has shifted for today’s world. I imagine the talented ones—suffering souls cloaked in mystery—who draw their creativity from chosen people or things. And I scoff a little, but only because I could use a muse today and don’t have one.
I run an online search, hoping for quotes and good ideas for locating my own muse. Instead, I find reality.
“Writing is total grunt work,” Jodi Picoult claims. “A lot of people think it’s all about sitting and waiting for the muse. I don’t buy that.”
I scroll further, bumping into Robert J. Sawyer’s opinions. “A writer needs to write, period. He or she can’t wait for the muse, shouldn’t need peace and quiet, and isn’t entitled to perfect conditions or the perfect spot.”
I reject the words I read, abandon my calendar for the afternoon, and head outside into perfect conditions with my notebook and pen to find the perfect spot in the peace and quiet of my back yard. I sit at the patio table and wait for my muse to join me.
Instead, here comes Lala, my dog. She hangs around my feet, per usual, gazing at my face.
“You can help me write now,” I tell her.
She flops down onto one side, a fur slab on brick. Her left flank covers one of my feet, and I know this is her way of helping.
I drum my pen, flicking my attention around the yard. Maybe Picoult and Sawyer are right.
“Wanna come and draw with us?” says a little voice.
A small girl—maybe seven years old—peeks around the corner of our garage at me. She has a younger companion, a boy of about five, and he grins. On the ground by them is the bucket of sidewalk chalk Husband left for them another day when they decorated our driveway with their dreams.
It isn’t hard to swap my full pen and empty paper for a chance to draw.
“Draw a rainbow,” the boy says. And I do, although I mix up the order of the colors, turning ROYGBIV into VIBGYOR—something he points out. He’s smart, that one.
He draws clouds for my rainbow, and the girl sketches a sun in yellow, then a jagged line in white for lightning before blue lines of rain streak the cement. While we work, we talk about floods and promises and second chances.
The creativity on the driveway ends too soon for me, and the kids wander home. I think about muses again—about finding my own.
And I think I’ll be fine with what I have.
*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date
*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.