My muse (and maybe yours) requires a special diet. I learned the hard way that mine, at least, needs to be fed decidedly non-serious things or it starves.
Everyone told me to feed it “healthy food”, and I tried, really I did. I offered it alder-smoked sophistication, gravitas paté, a mixed salad of somber headlines, and a truffled soufflé of the most urgent “shoulds”, all topped with a chiffonnade of locally-grown urbane debate. My muse, unimpressed, complained to the chef and left in a low-blood-sugar huff, leaving me with a wicked case of blocked creativity. No juice in the bones makes for dry work.
I have had to face the fact that my muse needs food that can be hard to find these days – optimism, silliness, and joy. This isn’t easy. It requires a certain amount of courage to stare down the hairy black-winged cynic-beasts and choose to be stubbornly hopeful, defiantly optimistic, and even a tad willfully naïve.
For me, this means admitting that I really, unabashedly *like* the campy, clichéd tropes of Dr. Who, where the heroes nearly always win. I like looking at my chintzy vintage china plate covered in purple violets. And most of all, I treasure hunting for gnome houses in the back garden in the company of a small child who still believes, because we both know they’re there if we just look hard enough.
When I offer my muse a meal of gloriously silly yet beautiful stories and artistry such as these, it claps and laughs, compliments the chef, and sighs happily, satisfied and well-fed at last.
In return, my muse leaves a giant tip and gives me things to make and write and believe in again.
So, there it is: I am nerdy, defiantly optimistic and stupidly hopeful—like it or not. I still believe that good guys deserve to win most of the time, that beauty is all around us even when it’s hard to see, and that there are solutions to seemingly intractable problems, if we just look hard enough.
Whether I “should” be this way or not in today’s world, this is what I am, and what my muse needs to thrive.
Scientists (and laughing Buddhas) who study such things say that optimism is one of the core characteristics of a happy life. If that’s true, I say damn the inner critics and outer cynics. Bring on the painted china, Downton Abbey and Dr. Who, The Decemberists and Genesis, gnome houses and wizard-kids flying on the back of a white dragon –because these things make my heart sing.
They power-spike my muse. One artist’s joy sparks another, and as far as I’m concerned the world needs a hell of a lot more of that going around.
So, dear Reader — what ridiculous, joyful, and defiantly optimistic things feed *your* muse?