when the muse appears

3547128317_04b011457fI bought my first domain name (ahem, this one) in the winter of 2000. The name was sort of arbitrary and somewhat inspired by random cool stuff I was starting to see online. There was significantly less “stuff” online compared to today. Up until that point, I had been using server space on my university server. I had a URL with a tilda (~) in it and everything. Since I had graduated several months before, I just assumed it was time to find new digs for my online world.

The domain sat dormant for months until some changes in my environment, both personally and professionally, caused the muse to appear. Oh, the muse. She is ever so fickle and has this funny way of appearing at the most unexpected times and disappearing in the blink of an eye.

At that time, I worked in a small design studio that was deeply inspiring to me. My coworkers and I were fast friends, and we had a place to play. And when there’s room to play, there’s room to create. The muse was in full swing and she and I had a ball together. With her energy around, I worked tirelessly on my creative efforts. Whole days and nights spent at the studio, playing just the right music, and taking brief breaks at the coffee shop next door or the record store at the end of the cobblestone street.

I was someone who made something and it felt damn good.

Buoyed by this creative energy, I made bigger changes to my surroundings, including a move across country. The muse did not join me. In fact, it seemed as though she stayed away for quite a while. Years, in fact. Where inspiration once lived, there was now a void.

After more moves, more changes, and more recoveries from various failures and rejections, that crazy muse showed up again. And, as always, in the most unexpected of ways. Something came across my plate and I said yes. More like a “why not” type of yes, but a yes nonetheless. Saying yes brought her back from the recesses of wherever she had gone to, and once again, it was salad days. Inspiration from all angles, the motivation and discipline to go all in.

After many creative adventures, and not unlike the time before, she quietly slipped away when I wasn’t looking. And once again, I felt the void. I wasn’t satisfied with the state of things this time around and decided to go looking for her. Over the course of what felt like years (and probably was years), I searched high and low for her. I asked everyone who would listen if they knew where she was. I searched in books, on the internet, in my living space, the library, in museums, theaters, and cafes. My efforts were in vain.

So I stopped looking and started working. Very small tasks, extremely baby steps but with great intention. Even the tiniest of efforts can make a huge difference. I started to feel her energy once again. I felt things shifting, doors opening, lights turning on.

I realized that she was there all along. The muse had never left.

And so, my friends, when you find your muse (and you will if you haven’t already), the first thing she’ll probably say is…“Ready when you are.”

Photo courtesy of Nina Matthews on Flickr.

3 Responses to when the muse appears

  1. Cali April 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Roz, I’ve discovered this lately, too. In the same vein you talk about regarding just starting working, I’ve found not only that *doing* those small tasks is powerful, as is *recording* those tasks. I recently started keeping a google spreadsheet that has two columns: one column has the date, the other column is for answering, “Today I accomplished or created….”. I include a few (or many!) bullet point highlights of what I created, developed or got done that day. It’s given me SO MUCH momentum…. and has created a welcoming space for the muse. 🙂

    Have you read Steven Pressfield’s the War of Art? Highly recommended on this topic: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/the-war-of-art/

    • Roz Duffy April 23, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      Cali, thank you so much for your comment! I just read Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work and he talked about writing down a log every night of what you did that day. I only did it once so far, but it sounds like it’s something I should revisit. I definitely keep a digital and analog to-do list. I definitely need to read The War of Art! I own it and you’re the second person to refer it to me TODAY 🙂

  2. Cali April 23, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    I just re-read my comment and realized I made zero sense… so, thanks for understanding me. 😀

    I need to pick up Austin Kleon’s book! And clearly muses are aligning if War of Art has been mentioned twice. I was apprehensive about reading it (it sat on my bookshelf for awhile) because I knew it would kick me in the britches. Totally good, though. The gist of the book? -Just do the damn thang.-

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