Being in love makes everything better, doesn’t it?
It makes your energy skyrocket.
You have a spring in your step.
You wear a constant smile and a special glow, even when you spill the milk, get a flat tire, and lose the winning lottery ticket down the garbage chute.
Research has proven that the chemicals that rush through our bodies when we’re in the throes of romantic love are the reason why we’re brighter, stronger, faster, healthier and more optimistic than at any other time.
Scientifically speaking, it’s all to the benefit of procreation that our bodies respond that way.
We’ve evolved to be romantic and the chemical reaction is addictive.
We love to be in love.
I miss it and I have no one to blame but myself.
In February, the month of hearts and flowers, I fell out of love.
I stepped out for the new and the shiny: bookstore browsing, real estate shopping, vacation planning, the season finale of Downton Abbey and multiple episodes of Mad Men on Netflix.
The result was inevitable. When she’d had enough, my muse packed up and left.
I was riddled with guilt.
I had vowed I would never do that to her again.
In Search of Love
Does the title of my post sound familiar?
It could be that you’ve heard about the viral New York Times article, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” a story of how two people fall in love using 36 scripted questions and four minutes of eye contact. Even Penny and Sheldon try it out on The Big Bang Theory.
When it made its way to prime time television, I went back to the article again.
I started to wonder. How far could I stretch the notion of “anyone”?
I wanted to reignite the romance … with my muse.
The Struggle Within
Could it be that we’re destined to struggle with our muse?
“Every creative person is a duality or a synthesis of contradictory aptitudes. On the one side he is a human being with a personal life, while on the other side he is an impersonal, creative process.” (Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul)
Jung is describing something that sounds familiar: the push and pull of a love/hate relationship.
It’s left brain versus right brain; the sociocultural persona + ego, versus the seething depths of the emotional and spiritual sea of intuition and inspiration.
It can be exhausting, like a love affair gone bad.
Please Don’t Judge Me
Before you sit in judgment of me, be honest with yourself.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- She calls you, but you’re too busy, tired, or distracted. You tell her you’ll call her back when you can.
- She asks when that will be, but you can’t say. After all, it really depends on how busy you get. It’s not in your control.
- “Can’t you just be spontaneous?” you ask. “Why are you nagging me, anyway?”
- Eventually, you find the time and you call her back. There’s no answer.
- You decide to go on without her, and write a few words. You have to delete most of it. It’s just not the real thing.
- Fear and self-doubt grow large as you realize you’re completely alone.
- You stare at the empty page and moan, “Why me?!?”.
Neglect has made her run and hide.
However, you can fix it. And you’re going to love this part: you don’t have to sit through 36 questions. I don’t know about your muse, but mine would get really bored, really fast.
There are some things you can’t avoid, though: work, commitment, and honest communication. You’re going to have open up and admit to her that she’s important to you. That you need her. That you want to make her happy.
Admit that you need her
“When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now those days are gone, I’m not so self-assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.”
~ The Beatles, “Help”
Lest you think I’m crazy and you want to insist that none of this is necessary, there are great historical figures and famous writers to back me up.
Hesiod, an ancient Greek poet, wrote of nine muses. They personified knowledge, and were believed to inspire literature, science and art.
In the centuries that followed, poets like Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Blake were known to plead and bargain with their muses, praising them and giving them credit for their success.
More recently, writer Elizabeth Gilbert admitted that she depends on a distinct entity she calls “creative genius”, while Anne Lamott looks within and calls it her broccoli:
“You need your broccoli in order to write well. Otherwise you’re going to sit down in the morning and have only your rational mind to guide you.” (in Bird by Bird)
Lamott isn’t diminishing its importance by calling it her broccoli; she has just created, for her, a usable metaphor for her inner writer. Her muse.
She argues that it’s an important step in learning to rely on it.
Stop ignoring her
Now that you’ve admitted that you need her, don’t be foolish and ignore what she has to say.
When she tells you something, write it down. Where ever you are, whatever you’re doing, have a pen and notebook ready.
Make time for her
She needs to know she’s important enough that you are willing to schedule time just for her.
Don’t just say you’re going to do it—follow through!
Once you’re together, don’t spend it staring at some device answering text messages, responding to tweets, or checking your email.
Put it all away and give her all of your attention.
There’s a fair chance she’s been telling you things you haven’t even heard because of all the noise.
Don’t get pushy
“ … as immediately I stopped disciplining the muse she trotted obediently around and became an erratic mistress if not a steady wife.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
You cannot force her to do your bidding at your whim.
Even if the page remains blank, be patient and kind with her.
Consider Aesop’s fable, The Wind and the Sun.
Each believed they were stronger than the other, so they had a competition to see who could remove the traveler’s coat faster.
First, the wind tried, but the harder it blew, the more tightly the traveler gripped his coat.
When the wind gave up, the sun came out, generously shining brightness and warmth. The traveler soon took off his coat.
The moral of the story? Kindness and gentleness can be much more effective than force.
Coax your muse, gently.
By her very nature, your muse can get carried away.
She likes to play, flitting from amusement to amusement. You wouldn’t want it any other way; her energy is what inspires you, after all.
But she also needs to learn to finish what she starts, so sit her down and show her how to get it done.
Just remember, there’s a difference between being firm and being a tyrant, and no one responds well to tyrants.
Take her out every once in a while
Bookstores, museums, theatre, movies, coffee shops, the zoo. Anything her heart desires and that you can afford. Even the nearby burger joint will offer up some interesting smells, characters and conversations.
If she doesn’t get out and see new things, new faces and new places, she’ll turn into a couch potato with nothing interesting to say.
Both of you will.
Share your dreams
It’s important that the two of you are on the same page.
You can get wrapped up in the rational side of things and maybe even let day-to-day worries get the better of you.
Things like making money, building email lists, and learning what readers want are all important to your future together. But, if you let them, they will cast a shadow over your relationship.
Remember her dreams as well.
She wants to teach, inspire, serve and change the lives of her readers. She dreams of readers who can’t find their sleep because they can’t stop reading her words.
The two dreams can’t be pursued separately. One or the other might win, but both will suffer as a result.
Don’t lay blame
This is the last point, but it’s an important one.
If you blame yourself or your muse for a failure or a bad decision, it won’t get you anywhere.
Over the course of your life together, you’ve both had moments of weakness.
Let it go. Move forward, together.
Stick together, take care of each other, and you’ll be sure to rediscover the romance.
Every time you share a magic moment, when you bring another piece of work to life and publish it into the world together, you’ll both know that all of that effort was worth it.
Time to share …
How do you romance your muse? Do you have any advice for the lovelorn? Has any of my advice inspired you to work harder on your relationship?
Comments are now closed, but I always love to hear from readers so feel free to contact me!