Where, Oh Where, Has That Little Muse Gone?

It was bound to happen. While browsing a few blogs that hadn’t been updated in months, I discovered one writer I’ve always enjoyed offering an intriguing reason for his absence. “The pandemic got my Muse,” he wrote. “She’s been quarantined.”

Presumably his Muse’s isolation has ended by now, but more than a few writers and other creative sorts continue to grumble about a lack of inspiration. Isolation, an inability to travel, generalized if mysterious ennui, and simple exhaustion all have been mentioned as reasons for blank pages or screens.

As far as I know, none of the Muses have landed in the cemetery I found in Muse, Oklahoma, but when mine disappears, I know where she’s gone: to Poughkeepsie. I can’t say I blame her. From what I’ve seen of New York’s Hudson River Valley, it’s a beautiful area, and if it isn’t as romantic as Paris, France (or Paris, Texas for that matter) at least it’s not Glenrio.

Eventually, of course, she always returns. William Stafford, one of my favorite poets, has experienced both the departure and the return of his own Muse; his report of the experience is filled with astonishment and touched by the same wisdom contained in Georgia O’Keeffe’s oft-quoted aphorism: “Take time to look.”

Stafford’s “When I Met My Muse,” a wonderful poem for any season, seems particularly relevant now. Most interesting, of course, is its suggestion that our Muses only are traveling because of our reluctance to invite them in. Perhaps it’s time to open the door.

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

Comments always are welcome.

115 thoughts on “Where, Oh Where, Has That Little Muse Gone?

    1. Thanks, Becky! It’s been years since a friend tipped me off to that town and that cemetery, but it’s one of my favorite photos. Every time I look at it, I laugh.

    1. I’ve become more and more fond of Stafford’s work over the past couple of years. There’s a short biography and a small collection of poems here. “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” is especially memorable.

  1. “Come live with me and be my muse.” I imagine that slightly altered version of Christopher Marlowe’s famous opening line as the muse for William Stafford’s poem about a muse.

    Your mention of Poughkeepsie comes as a surprise. When we visited New York three years ago we spent one night in Poughkeepsie with an old Peace Corps friend of mine.

    1. How about, “Come live with me and be my muse, and we will all the edits choose…”?

      I have no idea why Poughkeepsie turned up as the ‘destination’ for my muse, but I’ve joked about that for years, even before I knew that it was a beautiful area or well-known to others. I suppose it was just the unusual name. It still makes me laugh.

  2. Hi Linda! Been following your words for some years now but never stopped to comment. Shame on me! So glad your muse has hung around and not let you down, as some of her has influenced me as well and I would miss her company and yours. Continue to inspire all of us please!

    1. I’m so glad you waved hello, Julie. I stopped by your blog, and had to smile at one thing we clearly have in common. I noticed your use of the image from the Mucha arts series. When I began this blog, I often used his image of “Poetry” as an illustration. Now, my avatar is a clip from that image.

      Please do stop by any time. You’re always welcome!

  3. The Never Never is the name of a vast, remote area of the Australian Outback, as described in Barcroft Boake’s poem “Where the Dead Men Lie”:

    Out on the wastes of the Never Never –
    That’s where the dead men lie!
    There where the heat-waves dance forever –
    That’s where the dead men lie!

    1. One of my favorite books is travel writer Paul Theroux’s The Happy Isles of Oceania. One of his chapters is titled “Walk About in Woop Woop.” I’m assuming that ‘woop woop’ is the same as ‘never never.’ From the photos I’ve seen, both names capture a bit of the feel of the land there. Now that I think about it, perhaps Australian muses go walkabout.

  4. The idea of fixed stars and wandering stars (planets?) comes to mind. My muse, like Pardner, was born under a wandering star and wanders into and out of my life pretty much at random, pretty predictably showing up to murmur sweet somethings in my ear when I have little or no time to indulge him — a situation that is immensely frustrating. He ought to be showing up any day now.

    1. Given the demands and complexities of your life at present, your muse may have decided discretion was the better part of creative valor, and retired to the local library to wait things out. They’re unpredictable creatures, for sure. Still, the good news about wandering stars is that they always return: eventually.

    1. Perhaps a common misconception is that muses are delicate, ethereal creatures. Stafford’s seems more muscular: perhaps even a bit given to irony. It’s fun to envision them. I see your muse standing off in a corner, arms crosssed and toe tapping, saying, “Well?….”

  5. An amusing sign for sure, and Poughkeepsie was somehow an unexpected destination to find on this site. The Walkway over the Hudson there, on a gigantic old railroad bridge, is a great place to clear your head, looking down at hawks and eagles as they glide on the air currents, watching for fish below.

    1. When I looked at Poughkeepsie on the map while writing this, I noticed that Walkway, and wondered if it wouldn’t be a wonderful place to observe the world. Then, I realized that another blogger I follow recently posted this wonderful photo of the place. She posted some winter photos of the spot, too. No hawks and eagles then, but plenty of ice flowing down the river.

  6. Dear Linda,
    We enjoyed your text and the little poem. Thank you!
    For us, as for many photographers and authors we know, it was the other way round, the isolation helped to concentrate on our projects. Even our dear Master, who thought he wouldn’t write any more books, started to write a literary travelbook about the Arctic. Well, he had time enough to do it. For most of the people we know life became much slower. So we were available for our muses.
    We are most creative when we isolate us from the busy life around us. If you look at the habits of a lot of successful writers you see that most of them had their retreat. Covid made retreating easy.
    Stay well and happy
    The Fab Four of Cley

    1. Covid-as-retreat certainly served as a benefit for many. For those who suddenly found themselves without income or any social contact, the experience was somewhat different. Still, your point is well taken. One of my earliest posts here conveyed my growing realization that, if I were to do any writing at all, a good bit of my usual life was going to have to be jettisoned.

      In those early years, I slowly disconnected myself from social media, television, and a plethora of other habitual activities that were nothing but time-fillers. I also learned the wisdom of a tagline a Danish blogger used: “If I don’t have anything to say, I won’t say it.” All of that left room for saying the things I did have to say: nothing so grand as a travel book about the Arctic, but satisfying nonetheless.

      1. Dear Linda,
        like most authors I lived (and live) from my foreign rights, especially the European and Chinese copyrights (American publisher pay too low a percentage that they don’t play any role). The sales in Germany, Italy, Spain and China didn’t go back that significantly during the last two years. The demand for articles, interviews and taking part in talkshows was bigger than ever. And I can well understand that lot of my author friends were so happy that they didn’t have to go on lecture and book signing tours. I found those tours the most horrible side of an author’s life.
        Very wise what your Danish blogger friend said. Wereas especially your agent, your PR people and your publisher want you to be a talking head.
        I will just write this book for fun. I will write it slowly and I am not sure if I will have it published because then everything I am happy being finished with will start again, lecture tours, book signing, talk shows without a book doesn’t sell enough nowadays. I will write this book to organise my knowledge about the Arctic and my experiences during several expeditions. I try to understand why I am so fascinated by the North like Greenland, Svalbard, Bear Island and Jan Mayen. Anyway, I will see. It’s a very controverse topic as the Fascists were very much fasscinated by the North on one hand and on the other hand it’s ecologically absolutely out to go to high Arctic.
        Wishing you a happy weekend
        Klausbernd :-)

  7. What a great excuse for not blogging – my muse was quarantined!
    Leave it to you to be able to make a post about that! I love it!

    1. Just keep this in mind — the only way to quarantine a Muse is if she allows it. My experience suggests they tend to be free-spirited, independent, and not given to following rules they think are silly!

  8. I was “amused” at the Muse Cemetery. What a great photo and name for a cemetery. I think all our muses take a break now and then. They get tired, like we do and they get the same effects of our stress as our bodies do. I never think of you as losing your muse but I know mine has gone dormant now and then! I love the poem, everything about this. (And yes, I would love to visit the Hudson River Valley!)

    1. I just found out today there’s also a Muse, Louisiana and a Muse, Texas. Apparently there’s no Muse, Michigan, so if I were to go looking for yours, I’d probably head straight to Southern Exposure. On the other hand, she might be inclined to hover around the ditch, too. Heaven knows you’re found plenty of inspiration there!

      I’d love to visit the Hudson River Valley. I’m fond of the paintings that emerged from the Hudson River School, and it would be fun to see the real landscape. One day!

    1. Isn’t that the truth? King certainly understands his muse. I love this, from his book about writing:

      “Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hardheaded guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon. or seven ’til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up.”

    1. And remember: it’s not necessary to have the house perfectly clean and organized before you offer the invitation. Muses are a lot more forgiving than fringe relatives or gossipy neighbors.

  9. I haven’t written a (decent) poem in years (in fact I’m preparing to post one from 2012 because there’s nothing newer I like). I love the idea of just taking my muse’s hand & seeing what happens. I think I’ll try it!

    1. I’m not at all opposed to reading “old” poems or posts. After all, we still crack open Shakespeare, and watch Casablanca now and then. Not only that, I’ve found that a re-post sometimes can work as a pump-primer. Don’t forget that readership changes over time, and there’s always someone who’s never read what you wrote ten years ago — or one, for that matter.

  10. Stafford’s poem certainly gives me hope and comfort during this time, by evoking the joy of seeing — which is, as I think you are saying, a ready cure for ennui.

    Those words “the sunlight bent” were a kind of illumination for me: I saw that while my Muse has been there all along, I have been distracted from her ministrations in the confusion of an artificial and surreal light show.

    1. Bent sunlight brings prisms to mind, and the way they scatter light’s colors. I’d not thought of it until now, but I wonder if Stafford considered words as prisms when he was writing this poem: each word capable of refracting meaning into a myriad of colorful associations. Idle thought, that, but a fun one to play with.

      As for ennui, my mother did a fine job of equipping me to deal with that reality of life. Whenever she found me bored and listless, filled with complaints on the front step or in my room, she’d say, “Go find something to do.” And I always did.

      1. My mother just told us to “Go outside!” It is one of the big memories of my childhood, “having to” leave the house, and soon be lost in playing under the orange trees, brushing the dogs or riding my bike. Youth is wasted on the young, for sure! Well, not completely- we make good use of the memories later in life, of times when we unselfconscious of the frequent, pure leisure.

  11. When the muses leave us we must not look at the Muse cemetery or any other external places. When we look for the cause of our lack of inspiration we must search within ourselves.

    1. I love the photo I used because it’s a perfect metaphor for that internal ‘Muse Cemetery’ that you mentioned. On the other hand, external factors play a role. Simple physical exhaustion erodes inspiration, just as too much thought — famously described as ‘analysis paralysis’ — destroys creativity as surely as anything in the world. There’s no single way back to creative satisfaction; the trick is learning what best works for each of us.

  12. A most timely post, Linda … at least in my case. I wrote feverishly last year while the pandemic was raging (and I was grieving Dallas’s death); this year, not a single word. And here it is November, National Novel-Writing Month! Oh, well, I point the finger of blame at one exuberant Monkey, who has definitely overwhelmed me with his needs this year. I’ll get back to writing, I’m sure, but until then, I suppose my poor Muse will have to find creative ways of entertaining herself!

    1. If you could persuade her to take Monkey on his walks, and play with him each day, you’d really have something. I just mentioned to another reader the role that external factors play in loss of energy and inspiration, and those factors can be as varied as we are. Sometimes, even positive events can divert our attention, and get us off-track. No matter — every day is a perfect day to begin again.

  13. I love the cemetery photo and can’t help being reminded of a book I read some years ago titled The Muse Asylum, by David Czuchlewski. The book is one of those “you like it or you don’t” books (I enjoyed it) but I love the title.

    My muse has been fickle of late and demanded that I pull out my old guitar that I haven’t touched in many years. There’s something freeing about being awful at something and knowing you never need to be good enough to be presentable in public. You can just make noise in private and that’s enough. I’m hoping my muse is deaf as a post. I’d hate to offend her.

    1. The first descriptive words I read about Czuchlewski’s book were “post-modernist mystery.” I suspect that helps to explain the “you like it or you don’t” factor. It is a great title, and I’ll grant that the idea of an asylum for creatives has its appeal. On the other hand, it’s much more fun to have them running around loose.

      I may have asked if you’ve read Tennessee Williams’s piece titled “The Catastrophe of Success.” Your comments about making noise in private without regard to public acceptance reminded me of it. There’s an online text that suffers a few transcription errors, but it’s still readable. I read it regularly, and I’ve made use of it in the past. It’s quite wonderful.

      1. I hadn’t seen the Tennessee William’s piece, so thanks. I downloaded it for my keepers file.

        Czuchlewski is an interesting character. He wrote 2 (I think) novels early in life as he was completing his education and med school and is now a physician. I have a weakness for books with an intriguing writing style and a good title. Although I prefer some plot I don’t need much to hang the words on. If you ask me what a book was about after I’ve finished it I often can’t give a coherent answer. I just enjoyed the music. It has the side benefit of allowing me to reread books I like because the story is seldom spoiled for me – I probably can’t remember the details anyway.

  14. We have known for a very long time that we are not normal. (Even titled a blog entry that a while back.) One of the “differences” in our life is we rely upon one another for support, inspiration and entertainment. Thus, when the recent interplanetary plague struck, we pretty much carried on as usual.

    Yes, we did medically necessary stuff, but our daily routine was essentially unaffected. Please don’t snitch on us, but we went maskless in the swamp. The ‘gators did not complain.

    I did not realize I might have a personal “muse”, other than Gini. If I stared at a blank sheet of paper or blank computer monitor for more than about 30 seconds, I figured it was time for more coffee. Now that you have provided evidence of an actual final resting place for muses, I surmise mine succumbed to an early demise.

    Love that link to Glenrio!

    1. You know you have a song that fits you — and Gini — perfectly. My favorite line? "The ornithologist lady says that he's got wings on his heart…"

      Here's another little secret: through the past months, there have been a lot of people roaming maskless in swamps, forests, prairies, and mountains, not to mention living out more-or-less normal days. We all make our choices, and like you, I've been satisified with mine.

      As for muses, Gini may well be 'it' for you. Not everyone has the gift of a living, breathing muse, but some do — and I think you might be one.

    1. What a beautiful setting. I’ve seen a couple of photos take from the bridge across the Hudson, but this is a different sort of view, and it’s very appealing. The rivers in my area are quite different: muddy, red from the clay, and sluggish. The Hudson seems very elegant.

      Like you, I’m stimulated by travel. Of course, one of the greatest pleasures of travel is meeting and socializing with people, and that’s been hard during past months. Now, people are losing that edge of anxiety, and casual contact is possible again. I’m so glad.

      1. We are itching to get back to more travel too. And yes, the Hudson is quite beautiful in places. On our trip along that river a couple of years ago, we visited the Walkway Across the Hudson. Truly enjoyed that as well as a river lighthouse in Saguerties, NY. A lovely place.

  15. I had to look at an online map to identify where Muse, Oklahoma was. I wondered how you ended up there, but then thought perhaps it wasn’t too far off of the drive from Talihena to Mena, Arkansas. I haven’t heard if the autumn colors are spectacular this year or not.

    My muse is always present. Being rooted here on our place has been wonderful and soothing for me – it’s how Forrest and I have always lived – so nothing really changed with Covid. Instinct, has kept me quiet. It’s what the wild things do.

    1. You nailed it. I’d been in Arkansas, and came across the Talimena Drive. I made a number of side trips — not only to Muse, but also to the runestone at Heavener and the ghost town of Ultima Thule on the OKlahoma/Arkansas border.

      You’re another one who hasn’t had life turned completely upside down by the recent unpleasantness. One of the best reasons to live a simpler life is that the ups and downs of society aren’t quite as worrying. There are worries, to be sure, but they’re often more easily addressed. Wendell Berry got it right: “What We Need Is Here.”

  16. May be fall is when Muses prefer to wander – the shift of seasons and sun angles, the winds of change and all that?
    My Muse keeps suggesting, but it’s just so nice outside, I demure. Screens will have to wait – even to just sit and enjoy it all.
    I did do a double take at Muse cemetery- a good bunch of my relatives are buried in the one in E. TX…but you’d have to know where it is to find it as it’s tucked away in the trees and brush. We used to go out there every fall to check on things and groom the graves a bit. Sometimes people would meet there in the Spring and have a “reunion” of sorts with stories. A lovely old place – isolated – which seems appropriate, like a world far away.
    Nice post that made me smile!

    1. I don’t know about our muses wandering, but check out this 1961 photo from South Texas. It’s worth enlarging to see the details: the hair clips, the hat, the kid in the middle of the action. And that road! — that could just as easily be your east Texas neighborhood c. 1961. Today, of course, is the opening day of deer season; it’s time to get out the orange jacket and hat.

      I not only laughed at that photo this morning, I laughed at my own reaction to your comment that “screens will have to wait.” My first thought was of the traditional exchange of window screens for storm windows in the fall. I couldn’t figure out why you’d be doing that — until I realized that you were talking about a different kind of screen.

      I went looking, and think I found an article about your Muse cemetery. It’s between Slocum and Alto; the next time I get to Nacogdoches, I might go take a look, since it’s due west of there. I especially enjoyed the account of the May Homecoming, and the mention of “dinner on the grounds” and a community sing. There’s another connection between our childhoods.

  17. Today I was wondering if I should drag my camera with me tomorrow to the ocean since for the most part I don’t find a lot of inspiration anymore. I have packed the gear and will just in case she shows up.

    1. With or without camera, a trip to the ocean’s always satisfying. I’m still dallying a bit this morning, trying to decide which direction to travel today. It won’t be the beach, though. There’s a motorcyle rally in Galveston this weekend that’s estimated to draw 400,000 people or so. That’s not even a little bit inspiring. I could stay home and do some housecleaning, but that would be the least inspiring of all.

  18. Wonderful read in the morning! Fills me with excitement. Thanks for that beautiful William Stafford poem, Linda. During the lockdown period here, when everyone was in isolation, I kept reminding me Emily’s lines ‘The Soul should always stand ajar’ …

    1. And now Emily’s line has reminded me of one of those silly riddles from my childhood. Question: “When is a door not a door?” Answer: “When it’s a jar!”

      I’m glad you enjoyed Stafford’s poem. I hadn’t paid much attention to him until the past few years, but I’m finding more and more that appeals to me, and he seems to strike a chord with others.

  19. Poughkeepsie has to be the ultimate in names for a city. I have always meant to look it up and will try to remember to do that- at some time or the other. But I really laughed at the title of your post and never dreamed that a cemetery is named Muse. It is funny but not funny, I suppose. At any rate it is smart of you to have found the place and then write about it.

    1. I don’t know about the other towns named Muse (including one in East Texas), but the Oklahoma town is named after Rev. Joseph Muse, a Baptist minister. It’s an old town, established in the late 1800s when the area still was Indian territory. As for Poughkeepsie, every time I come across the name I think of the old expression, “Oopsie-daisy.” Maybe that’s why it stuck in my mind. I don’t know a thing about the real town; for me, it’s purely mythical, like Camelot. I suppose that’s why it seems a perfect destination for a muse.

  20. This is a good example of the parallels between life and blogging. Over the past 18 months, all of us have wondered about people more than we usually do. Well done.

    Thanks for coming over to Beach Walk Reflections today. Yes – we seem to pass here and there. Interesting bio … and hey – I’m a Lutheran in Ohio.

    1. I’ve lost enough blogging companions to death that I do wonder when someone disappears. Sometimes, real life circumstances are the cause, not merely a decision to stop blogging. It’s one reason to appreciate my comment section that I never anticipated. Now, I can go back and read the conversations I had there with people who may still be reading over my shoulder, but who have lost the ability to comment in any discernible way.

    1. Isn’t that great? I was tipped off to it by a friend who lives in central Oklahoma, and I surely was glad I made a point of stopping by. It’s one of my favorite travel photos, for obvious reasons!

  21. All we really have to offer in our writing is our own, unique voice. Whenever I worry about coming up with a post that my readers will like, I struggle. When I simply write about what I’m thinking and feeling at the moment, then I can produce something. I think we tend to under-rate the importance of listening to our inner voices.

    1. I agree, whole-heartedly. When I began this blog, one of my firm commitments was to write only about what interested me. I figured that if I were bored, my readers would be, too. It pleased me immensely when someone stopped by, and I cherished every comment, but the reason there’s no ‘like’ button here is that I wanted to encourage comments. Photos are different, so I added a ‘like’ button on Lagniappe, but even there the back-and-forth of comments is pleasurable.

      Beyond that, I was lucky enough to meet a Danish blogger very early whose tagline was “If I Don’t Have Something to Say, I Won’t Say It.” That’s a whole lot of wisdom for someone as young as she was at the time.

  22. I like the thought that you don’t need to tidy up before you invite the muse in. And O’Keeffe’s suggestion to “Take time to look.” Your muse is at hand when you look and then see.

    1. I like that too – our muses will be happy to ‘take us as they find us’ and we can be our true selves. (I think that my blogging is mostly about just being/finding myself.)

      1. I suppose the purposes for blogging are as individual as we are. My expressed purpose when I began this blog was “to learn to write” — that is, to express myself in a way that satisfied me, and to move away from ‘academic’ writing. ‘Different pen strokes for different folks’ works, too!

    2. It’s probably a very good thing that tidying up isn’t necessary. The amount of mental clutter that’s collected in my brain would take the rest of my lifetime to clear out. Besides: you never know when that tchotchke you’ve tossed might be useful!

  23. I find writing to be something that grows in urgency as the time available shrinks. I am also frustrated by the appearance of my best thoughts when I am unable to write. I am trying to keep a list of random musings. Some may become written pieces. Maybe not. The disappearing muse is like photographer’s block when we struggle to make a picture that speaks to us. Eventually it passes. But the older I get the more frustrated I become.

    1. I smiled at your mention of a list of random musings. I use my draft file for that purpose, and at present I have 216 ‘drafts’ saved. Some are only a title. There are quotations, possible topics, first lines of poems-to-be: a whole mishmash of ‘stuff.’ Every now and then, I browse through the list. If I can’t even imagine what I was thinking at the time, I delete the draft. When I bump into something that I know will be good, but that I just haven’t worked on, I resolve to give it another try.

      Sometimes, it’s having too many ideas that slows me down. Picking one topic and focusing there can be helpful.

      1. I use a thing called Evernote and just jot things down as they occur to me.It’s my extra memory. Like you sometimes I wonder what I was thinking but maybe the idea will return so I don’t delete them.

        1. I’m usually making notes on the back of used sheets of sandpaper. One of the great advantages of my work is that I have plenty of time to think and ponder, and sometimes a thought will drift through that seems worth keeping.

  24. “Take time to look.” That really is a great quote in so many ways. And the idea that our “Muses only are traveling because of our reluctance to invite them in” is an interesting one. I think I like that, too. I can be a very lazy person sometimes and also prone to serious procrastination (they go together well), and both of those naturally lead to not inviting in the Muses.

    What I’ve realized lately (and have before as well) is that I really do enjoy those moments when I feel the spark, whether it be related to photography, writing, or both. And often feeling that spark just requires making a start. If I can get that far I often get into a rhythm and before I realize it I’m having a good time. Practicing guitar is the same. It’s so easy to put it off, just not enough time, I don’t feel inspired, etc. And yet if I sit down and just strum a couple chords that leads to strumming a few chords which naturally leads to losing track of time and feeling great practicing. But overcoming that initial inertia can be such a challenge, even knowing how much the rewards out weight the little effort required.

    1. You’re so right that “feeling that spark just requires making a start.” The artist Chuck Close made the same point in a quotation that at least a few other artists and writers I know share my affection for. It’s a little long, but it’s always worth quoting:

      “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.

      “If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you, and something else that you reject will push you in another direction.

      “Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive.You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

      Every time I read that I get re-energized all over again!

  25. Linda, this post captures the emptiness of energy that any writer dreads. Dust may cover our thoughts, but it only takes a gentle wind to uncover another waiting treasure.

  26. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Poughkeepsie as I had an aunt and uncle and two cousins to visit there in my childhood. One cousin is more or less now permanently residing in Bali and it sure would be nice to visit her there. My aunt was secretary to the president of Vassar and my cousin who is in Bali worked with Giancarlo Menotti and Twyla Tharp then reviewed grant applications for the National Endowment of the Arts. So Poughkeepsie has a bit of familiarity for me. For funny town names I tried to find a skit from the Stephanie Miller show about Sheboygan. Couldn’t find it but basically they just kept saying Sheboygan with funny background noises.

    I have never recognized my muse if I have one. I never feel a presence when I am out shooting so at a loss for her whereabouts. If you see her let me know. I am pretty sure Mary Beth wouldn’t object to her moving in with us.
    I was unfamiliar with William Stafford so thanks for the introduction.

    1. Poughkeepsie seems like it ought to have a song dedicated to it — like Gary, Indiana in The Music Man. On the other hand, Bali sounds pretty good. Do you suppose your cousin might have room for my muse to visit occasionally? I don’t know how muses get around, but I don’t think they need airline reservations.

      Most of my references to any muse are tongue-in-cheek, but I will say that there are times — especially when I’m out with the camera — that I’ll suddenly get “that feeling” that I ought to stop. When the feeling comes, I always stop. I may not know what I’m looking for, but inevitably I’ll find ‘it.’

      There will be more Stafford. He’s just so good.

      1. I am sure Rhoda has spent plenty of time entertaining her own muses so I am sure she’d welcome another. Currently she is the artistic director for the ongoing Javanese Opera performance of I La Galigo, the story of creation, in Bali. You might enjoy this interview she gave on Charlie Rose. As you can tell, I am quite proud of the cousin who used to make finger rings out of dollar bills for me. Her accomplishments blow me away. And she likes my photography.

        I am the same way about sensing an image while out. Mostly it comes from peripheral vision but more often from looking closely at things. I try to not have tunnel vision while out looking.

        1. That’s interesting, about I La Galigo. The similarities and differences among the creation myths are fascinating to compare.

          The interview was great. As a matter of fact, I was struck by her mention of one commonality: dance as a way people interpret their world, and express the meaning of their world. Strange as it may seem, I thought immediately of an example of American dance — on the surface, it’s worlds away from the Indonesian, etc., but I suspect Rhoda might see something more beneath the surface.

          1. That was fun. I watch a lot of bluegrass videos on YT and every so often there’ll be some dancers featured for a few moments. In the interview she mentions kids on a New York City block corner as part of that expression of interpretation so, yes, I am sure she would agree.

  27. Love what you wrote. I think my muse was tired because I’m busy with many different activities and she needed a break. So she went for it.
    Meanwhile I closed the door because of house renovation and some other technological improvements, both things required much time and attention.

    Most of work done now, time for me to open the door and call her…

    1. It seems to me that most muses are sensitive and smart; they know when it’s time to depart until we finish with the details of daily life that demand attention. When you do open the door and call, I suspect she’ll show up pretty quickly. Like any faithful companion, they don’t go far.

  28. The poem is an eloquent commentary on our world today. Always interesting to see how words and thoughts apply in different generations and time periods.

    My muse seems to assume numerous faces taking me to what I experience as an intriguing variety of places that have been more restricted during this pandemic. At best, I am a casual writer, often surprised at content linkage and how what I write evolves.

    1. That evolution you mentioned is a real experience for me as well, and for other writers I know. Starting at Point A, I may intend to get to Point B, but I often end up at Point M or Q, with a few stops in between. The basic outlines that my teachers commended has its uses, but there are times when a little wandering works for words as well as for hiking trails!

    1. I know some people who behave the same way. On the other hand, it’s clear that yours comes back. Before I started reading your blog, I didn’t know anyone with a food muse, but you clearly have one!

  29. I so enjoyed these musings on the Muse, Linda, so very thoughtful and calming. I am smiling at your fantastic photo of the cemetery in Muse OK, and this curious place that you found. I most especially liked the William Stafford’s poem and your final paragraph. Truly a delight.

    1. William Stafford is an under-rated poet, and one of my favorites. What surprised me is the number of towns named ‘Muse’ in this country. It seems to have been a family name, too, which led to all sorts of surprises — like this cemetery. It was both amusing, and cause for musing — not to mention a little wordplay!

  30. Poughkeepsie is a great name for a place where a muse might take a vacation. I have a blogging buddy who sometimes misplaces hers. Next time she mentions it I’ll have something to suggest.

    1. Schenectady or Schuylkill might do for a Muses’ retreat, too. The northeast is filled with wonderful names. On the other hand, Texas has some good ones, like Dime Box and Cut and Shoot. It’s a little harder to determine the ethnicity of those areas, but it’s pretty easy to form some opinions about the living conditions!

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