My Muse Has a Sweet Tooth
by Marcella Burnard
Did you know the Muses have a collective sweet tooth? No? I didn't either until they said so.
Fair warning. I had the flu.
It was during one of those weird fever dreams you get - you're not really awake, not quite asleep, but you've slipped into some kind of familiar trance space. Someone said beside my right (plugged up) ear, "Why do you not ask us for help?" Without opening my eyes, I became aware that a group of women stood beside me. Nine of them. All classic Greek beauties. Even in a fever dream, I could guess they were the Muses, and why I ought to be seeking their aid.
You see, I'd finished a book draft two months prior. Beta readers had given me actionable editing advice. And I done nothing but stare at it. It got so bad at one point, I considered abandoning the project entirely. Now, I had a group of nine sisters patiently awaiting my fevered explanation as to why I hadn't called upon them for assistance with something as simple as an edit.
"I thought the Muses were about ideation," I muttered. "Not process."
They laughed at me. "Any act of creativity, throughout the act is our purview. Beginning to end. Carve out sacred space. Call your quarters. Invite us in. Seek our assistance."
They vanished. From that point forward, I began hearing them. Snide little comments. Instructions. Observations. Insights into the fact that several years ago, someone I loved had died. They gently pointed out that I'd lost more than a beloved friend. I'd lost a lot of my joy. Especially my joy of writing. We'd been a creative team, he and I. The day he died, so did a part of me. An entire family of stories died with him. Stories that had once poured forth. Effortlessly. Joyfully.
Creation is harder now. I've been alone in the endeavor and in truth, I've felt utterly inadequate to the task. I kept writing after he died. Forcing it, maybe. But I got slower. And slower. Then finally ground to a halt. I'd tried to rationalize my difficulty. Surely something was wrong with whatever story I was working on. The Muses gently, but firmly insisted the problem was within me.
So in the morning, a circle was cast, quarters summoned, and the Muses invited in.
Conditioning hit. Look. Mom's from the South, okay? I am not physically capable of having guests - physical or metaphysical - without offering food. Wine from a bottle opened the previous night? Check. Cake - uhm - what could stand in for cake? Gluten free soda crackers? Bleh. Gluten free bread that crumbles at the slightest touch? Not even the seagulls would eat that.
The voice chimed in again. "Animal crackers."
Arrowroot animal crackers. I'd picked them up, had three or four, and then stowed them. When the flu hit, crackers were the last thing on my mind. There they still were. A silly, sweet throwback to childhood. I swear I wasn't the only one giggling as I blessed a trio of animal crackers and dropped them into the wine. The next day, I made a pumpkin spice cake. With frosting. That's on the offering menu for a few days to come. And the Muses seem happy. They keep coming around. And talking to me. Am I cured? Probably not yet. But that first day, I did manage to finish writing a scene and a transition that I'd despaired over for two months. So if the Muses want me to ask for help, I'll feed their sweet tooth, and ask for help. And maybe for a little bit of joy.
Call upon them if you're feeling stuck. Ask for their input. Listen to what they have to say to you. And should you hit upon the perfect offering recipe, by all means, share that magic!