Chasing the Muse
By MJ Heiser
Yes, I know. Cathleen asked me to write about my writing life. The whole story about my writing life, however, can be easily dramatized to resemble a chase scene. Did you ever see the movie Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio? That’s what it’s like. Writing is the life-long pursuit of pleasure, of mastery, and of that silver-winged mischief-maker known as The Muse.
It started easily enough. I was a precocious reader. I started reading at the age of three, because I’d spent my infancy watching my dad sit in his recliner and flip pages of Western novels. He was content in those times, at peace, and the methodology of that entranced a girl who had not yet been potty-trained. I wanted to find that peace and contentment, so I started really paying attention to the Muppets on Sesame Street as they tried to show me what each letter sounded like, and how the letters ganged up to make words, and how the words ganged up to make sentences, and how the sentences lined up neatly to form great big horking books. I started practicing this new ability to translate weird squiggly characters into internalized movies, and found it intoxicating, thrilling that I could pull it off. Compared to the mastery of reading and the desire to someday write, the subsequent discovery of the ability to control my bowels was a bit of a let-down.
You mean this was an option?
Since then, however . . .well, since then I’ve discovered that writing is not an endeavor to take lightly. I get a bit riled whenever I hear someone say off-the-cuff that they plan on writing a book someday. You don’t do that. You write books all your life, and hope that someday, one of them sprouts wings and flies. You struggle with apathy and insecurity every day. You read constantly, and every book you read either inspires you with new things to try or depresses you because the author pulled off something you’d never even considered possible. –And let’s not even discuss the uncertainty of walking to the writing space and wondering if your damned Muse – that brilliant, beautiful, inspiring, maddening, and mesmerizing creature – will even show up. When she’s there, it’s a loud and wild brain party. When she’s not, it’s a wrestling match with creative frustration.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
This is my life. I don’t know if I managed to make it sound wonderful. I know my fellow writers nodded their heads a few times in understanding, and like me, they know just how wonderful the whole thing is.