With all the chaos in the world right now, you might be having difficulty finding your creative focus. That's okay! Our creativity can ebb and flow, depending on our energy—and stress level. Ironically, stressful times are also when our creative activities can offer a much-needed respite and escape. Even when you feel you're not really "getting anywhere," just the process of putting your pen to the page, paint on a brush, or a pan in the oven can feel comforting and assuring, regardless of the end result. So, how are you kissing your muse these days? What's calling you, creatively?
Kissing my muse has recently sparked a trip down memory lane. As part of my creative process in developing a course for the Transformative Language Arts Network, I've been revisiting old folders, photos, and artworks, looking for inspiration on the Creative Call phase of the adventure. There was a time when I was obsessed with the repeating cycles of my own creativity and obsessive crushes—which probably planted the seed for what would eventually become Kissing the Muse. I even made a film about this idea.
My own journey to embrace my "inner artist" had a lot of repeating road bumps along the way. But through it all, I learned a lot about what constitutes a "calling"—and mostly that a "creative call" is not always crystal clear.
"Your Seducing Siren Muse lures you with a creative call to action. She might beckon softly with a whispered promise of passion or blow your life open with an unexpected windfall or loss."
But how do you know when it's her? Or when to listen. more closely? Or exactly what she's calling you to create? Sometimes our desires are buried so deep below, and who we want to become so shrouded in mystery, that we can't embrace our muse as ourselves. "I can't be that! No way, that's not me," we demure, pretending not to notice her teasing whispers, tickles, and temptations. Our muse doesn't often start shouting, "Hey, pick up that paintbrush, sister!" Instead, she shows up in more subtle ways, often in disguise.
Sometimes, our Seducing Siren Muse shows up as a "crush" or romantic interest. Who are your celebrity (or real-life) crushes? What intrigues you about them? What might these qualities be telling you about yourself?
Write a short story or poem about an imagined (or real!) encounter with someone you fancy—a Seducing Siren Muse personified. Here's (a very old) ode to one of mine who woke me up to my passion for experimental film-making. What did your crushes, old flames, or lost loves call you towards? What impressions did they leave?
her bohemian lover
on the floor, past the door, number three forty-six
a beat rug spread with papers, film reels, books, and bags
and a dozen or so recycled videos
he, the teacher, runs into the room, I mean ran—really ran
with bags of beer and snacks for the class
(he passed them out like valentine’s day milk duds all over her desk)
beatnik, shaman, jokester, trickster
wise with words and sideways glances
we gazed, glazed, amazed while he showed us
seekers, friends, be mine, we were
I am! and knew I was in trouble when
my vision started zoning in on
ear lobes, shoulders, wisps of hair,
oh god, she loved the way he moved
the energy! look at his hands
they’re frantic, jesus! watch his mouth, his eyes
they’re seeing me, now dancing back
to other eager sponges—wait! wait…wait.
did you just pause? shift? tilt your head while thinking?
I’m dying, oh god, not listening. what did you say?
everything is scattered on the floor
I want to be too
he danced around the room,
exploding with answers before there were questions
and she knew she wanted him
to make her into something else
he offered later, perhaps a star?
but she laughed, and put herself down, as usual.
then, whoa, chaos! he is right in front of her
on the street, like a stranger who might change her life
join us! and she’s shuffled in
falling down into his funky abode
past peeling plaster and stacks and stacks of
rusty film reels—musty and metallic piles
of his obsessive passion.
it’s eclectic, electric, the energy around him
turning her on while unknown others wonder
what the shift is in the air
but does she care?
she caught him from the corner of her eye
a sharp tongue flickering
in anticipated licking of her skin
she looks away, afraid he is the devil.
he wears tattered pants, and holey, holy shoes.
his hair flips wildly gray.
he is 20 or 50, impossible to tell when you are watching his eyes, or his soul,
not his skin, in the daylight, which might have one age spot near his ear.
I’m not really doing this, but she is she thinks
and x disappears from her heart completely
frantic madness making her dizzy
him fussing through film reels
to seduce her mind with his
suddenly, when no one is looking, he bends on one knee smiling and says her name
now darling, what do you like about my movies?
what can we watch next?
this is dedicated to you, are you listening?
let me, let me—oh god!
and he kisses her, like an alligator,
wide and ready
like a plane crash on the highway
like power lines collapsing
oh god, yes, oh god, yes!
and suddenly the other guests
are ushered away as she watches film flickers
waiting to get it on. but doesn’t yet,
and instead holds her pants on, with both hands,
jeans with bell bottoms
while he tugs and they tumble
on the floor across chairs up the stairs to the door
delicious karma candy stuck to their teeth
licking night like cat’s cream in bohemian dreams
when the door falls open, suddenly spilling her free
and he’s waiting outside
dressed up in a tux he bought off the street, too short and stained,
perfect, on him
he pats her hand gently and raises skinny white arm radically
to cheer on the dyke march blocking their road
ah man, just part of the scene
he’s turned on and they could fall out of the car
or the sky
getting down on the sidewalk
if the cops weren’t there to keep everything in order
let me, let me-oh god!
and she’s dazzled, and hungry
afraid not to know him
aching like butter melting
she could have let him swallow her
in fact, that’s what she wanted
to become him, or absorb him, or at least
try on his shoes
which she did, later, at the top of the stairs
where he’d left them
before slipping down below
oh god, yes, oh god, yes! and so…
once more on the floor of his basement studio
his cinema mistress