The Fine Art of Muse Bashing


I am in a creative slump. It happens to lots of creative people. Most of us have a tremendous fear of it. My slump has been in full force for some time now. In fact it’s been so long, I question my ability to pull out of it. It’s because I’m spread thin, it has to do with the constant rejection associated with songwriting, it’s timing…

Quite a while back, I heard a phenomenal Radiolab show, Me, Myself, and Muse. The show starts with people who gave themselves extreme, and some would argue, insane ultimatums to get through their dry spells. If you can get past those, you will get to a story about Tom Waites. The story describes him in his car when his Muse gives him a song idea. In a frustrated response, he explains that he can’t write a song right then, because he is driving. He then says what his regular writing times are and tells his Muse to either come back during those times, or take the idea to another songwriter. While I am no Tom Waites, I can relate to that. So many times I get an idea when I can’t do anything about it. My Muse has ADHD and interrupts me while I’m driving, getting ready for work, trying desperately to get to sleep. Of course she’s off doing something else when we’ve made an appointment, and I’m sitting in my studio, waiting for her.

Sometimes when she does show up, she gives me half an idea, or so many that I can’t keep up. Then, POOF, she’s gone… and I’m left with the sound of my neighbor’s lawn mower. Part of the problem is my judgement of what I’m getting. I think, “that’s just a fragment of the song I heard on the way home.” “That’s not marketable.”

Enough Muse bashing. The truth is, I edit before I even get things on paper. I assume an idea is bad or too sad before I give it a chance to evolve on its own. The truth is, I’m concentrating so much on making money with my music that I’m losing sight of why I chose to write in the first place. I just don’t have the stomach to write something bad. As it turns out, I also don’t have the patience to write something good. At least not right now. Maybe this is why people collaborate?


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