A little backstory first. Some of you may know this, but for those who don’t, I’ve been a musician and creative for most of my life. I’ve been writing and recording original music since the late 80s (on and off), and I have been creative in other areas as well; I’m an occasional essayist and blogger (natch), and more recently, a woodworker. But it’s the music that is the really important part.
When I first started to write music, my muse was an outgoing, chatty, and friendly lady. I would write music anywhere I was. A lot of my early songwriting actually occurred in my college Composition 101 class. Coincidentally (or not), this class is where I discovered that writing was something for which I had a natural knack. Because the teacher understood this right away, she had no problem with me taking out staff paper and writing music, as long as my journal was up to date (it always was). There I’d sit, song after song flooding my mind, and my pencil working as fast as it could to get them on paper before I forgot them, sometimes working on more than one idea at once. It was a heady, beautiful time, lush with the innocence of youth, and the excitement of what was to come.
After college, I moved to Florida and set up shop. Interestingly, my muse forgot to get in the car when I left New York. I think she was practicing her scales, and I didn’t see her. So, she was upset. It takes a long time for a Muse to fly 1250 miles. In my case, she took a full two years to get back to me. In the intervening time, I was creatively dry as a bone; not a single song springing forth. By the time she made it to Florida, I had already set up residence, and my best friend, also a musician, lived with me. My muse found instant kinship with his, and together we churned out a song each every few days, but now we had the facilities to record them, so it was ever so much more satisfying.
And then, I got married for the first time. My muse was confused and angry, and probably more than a little jealous of my new wife. So, away she whisked in a fit of pique, and she did not return. Not for nothing, but my best friend went with her, as he and my first wife did not see eye to eye on anything.
After a couple of years, my first wife and I figured out that we’d made a mistake, and we parted on reasonably amicable terms. The day she left, my best friend was back. That’s what best friends do. My pesky muse? Not so much. She punished me for another 7 long years, even through the beginning of my second (and current) marriage. The fact that my new wife was much more supportive of my creativity meant nothing. Oh, I was playing music again, I even got in a band for a while, but I wasn’t WRITING. It took a cataclysmic event to change that.
In 1999, my best friend passed away suddenly of a heart attack, at the tender age of 34. The shock of this event was every bit as profound as you might imagine. I still feel it today. But, I managed to find the good in it, and I resolved to use my gifts while they were mine to use. I joined a nascent online music community called MP3.com. There I discovered hundreds of fellow musicians looking to expose their wares to the world. The other thing I found there was my muse! She’d been sitting in the corner of one of the chat rooms, with a cigar and bemused sort of smirk. And I was off! Writing became natural again, and I started putting out all sorts of new material. The decade of the 2000s was fruitful; yielding 3 CDs full of material. It was also a fruitful decade in that we had Abby in 2003 (who yielded inspirations of her own!).
But then, something happened. I don’t know if she just got tired of me, or she didn’t like the music, but she left again. This time, she was gone four years. As always, I missed her. She finally came staggering back in, exhausted and maybe even a little hung over, but ready to help me move forward with a 4th CD.
Once that came out, she’d had enough. She left a note on my desk that said “go suck it, loser!” and she vanished. I don’t know why. And she’s been gone a long time. Her Bohemian nature- loving cousin did come to visit me in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown, and because of that I now have a lovely new woodturning hobby that I enjoy very much indeed. But I’ve missed my original muse so. Every time the Stones come through on tour, she stops by for coffee, with a taciturn sort of look, and an uncomfortable hesitancy. Those fleeting visits have yielded me three new songs for a fifth album, but I’m not sure what her plans are moving forward.
This tale doesn’t have a buttoned-up storybook ending. It’s a tale that still ebbs and flows. I wish I had the wisdom to deduce why muses are so fussy. If you have one, hold on to her dearly, because there are no guarantees she’ll be your lifelong companion.