6:47 AM – Today I serve jury duty. The last time I served jury duty I told the judge the case we were discussing sounded like a waste of time and energy because it sounded like they already had the thing figured out. I said something along the lines of, “We all know these things are based far more in rhetoric and resource than actual guilt or innocence, so I’d prefer to spend my time elsewhere.” In my defense, I often accept an invitation to be totally honest as an invitation to be totally honest. Today I plan to be more patient. Perhaps I can keep good graces with the Brazos County courts.
“I shall see what comes when I am not looking.” – Tanya Marlow
Having been the beneficiary of many such encounters, I believe in divine appointments. For instance, I find it more than consequential that yesterday I posted questions concerning the concept of a “muse” and today I read a post by a fellow online writer describing, what she believes to be, her muse. She comically referred to her muse as “the shower”, but she said something in her description that struck me as solid gold.
Tanya Marlow says “the shower” is her muse. The shower is where she gets her ideas. My good and lovely YA writer friend, Kelly Riad, also gets her best ideas in the shower. I do not get great ideas in the shower. I generally hum and sing a few repetitive bars of whatever Kelly Clarkson or troublesome hip-hop number has lodged itself in loop around my brain, but no solid thinking occurs in the shower. I enter dry. I leave wet. I then apply the patchouli and clothings. Done.
Tanya, in describing her shower-muse, said something I think is essential to the source of “muse”, something that reaches beyond location and activity:
I don’t know what it is about the shower. I suppose other people find it in coffee shops or going on a walk – any activity where you are not using much brain or physical energy, and you go into automatic pilot.
Tanya then said something interesting: although she uses little brain energy at this moment, she’s more able – in this quiet mental place – to sort through the rabble of her mind. She’s able to peel back the socially trending thoughts from the personal thoughts. She’s able to move aside what other people are saying to find the question that is most pertinent to her in that moment. Her process for doing so is worth reading, as it lands her in a place of finding some aspect of life or God that is true solely for her. This idea is what she has to give. Let the mega-bullhorns shout their messages! This kernel of a thought is the one thing Tanya has to say. I love that.
I said yesterday that I have often read Christian writers who write as if with authority but then say very little. Perhaps Tanya has struck on why that is so: perhaps very few of us take that moment to push back the popular notions, the spiritual memes, the hip theology of the moment in order to connect with the authentic place from which we are meeting God and culture and society. In fact, this notion falls in line precisely with the Mark Edmundson essay I wrote about yesterday. The true poet should look at life with unique eyes and lend us a vision worth consideration. More on this later.
My desire to question the concept of muse rises from a deeper desire to write words that, even if not popular, affect the moment – even though I’m not sure exactly what that means. Chadverb and I have written extensively as of late concerning the difference between writing for entertainment and writing for truth. I write a great deal for giggles (ie. The Four Hands), but I hope for more elsewhere, away from this internet and these ethereal pages I hold in such adoring contempt.
Tanya strikes at something I’ll hold before myself and God and, surely, anyone who will suffer the conversation: what vision is unique to this guy? What aspect of the out there or the in here might be delivered essentially through my voice? Perhaps I will not land on the precise name for that thing/those things, but it is worth striving towards after crawling from that quiet place, that sanctum that shuts down the other voices and strips away the rabbling thought that hinders inspiration.
My great thanks to Tanya Marlow for sharing bravely not only in this. Blessings on the words and waters flowing in the days ahead.