The Muse Isn’t Always Your Friend

The Faucet Analogy

In April 2009, I wrote the first poem I had written in probably about a year and a half. The experience was like twisting the handle of a sink in a neglected house – a rusty, brownish substance spews out, followed by a rush of clear water.

That poem I wrote in April 2009 was awful – but it was a poem. It was the rusty, brownish substance from the unused tap. After that poem, I had a burst of inspiration. I wrote a poem per day, sometimes two or three poems a day. I was back to the way I had been writing poetry in my high school years – nonstop – a perfectly clear stream of water.

Why?

I don’t know why my inspiration trickled down to nothing between 2007 and April 2009. It might have been because I was working on other writing projects. Maybe it was because I was busy with college work. It might have had to do with relationship difficulties I was having at the time. Perhaps it was because I had gotten some poems published in my community college’s literary journal and I felt like I couldn’t write anything better than those few poems.

Screw the Muse

None of that matters now. I keep the faucet running clear – and the inspiration alive – by writing one poem every day, whether I’m “inspired” or not. I’ve learned not to wait for the muse. She can be a bit of a truant.

Goals

In 2011, I’m going to continue to write a poem per day, but I’m also going to revise some of my older ones. My current goal is to revise one poem a week and try to send some off for publication. Hopefully, at the end of 2011, I’ll have 52 clean, shiny, revised poems and 365 brand new ones.

Advice

-Write every day, even if it’s just a few lines or random images and thoughts.
-Read all kinds of poetry. The Best American Poetry series (edited by David Lehman) is a good start. Each volume includes 75 poems, written in a variety of styles.
-Try different styles of poetry. Experiment. Go crazy. (Stay sane at the same time.)
-Imitate your favorite authors.

2 thoughts on “The Muse Isn’t Always Your Friend

  1. Wonderful post, Maggie.

    On WEbook, I joined the Haiku Diaries project ~ goal being to write one Haiku a day for 365 days. Many/most were ordinary, but a few rose about that level to resonate with who I am and who I want to be.

    What a great way to keep your muse amused.

    Like

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