Sometimes, as a writer, you start to think the muse is dead.
At the end of every three months or so, I prep my poetry submissions for the upcoming season. There is a site called Entropy that publishes a huge list of journals accepting submissions every three months, and I work my way through it with my seasonal submission and hope for the best. I haven’t encountered any hiccups (this is since starting submissions in 2018.) Until now, that is.
I won’t call it writer’s block, because I am writing. I’m pecking out my bi-weekly blog, and the occasional note or dialogue for the novels, both that in editing and that in planning. But my poetry has been stifled, somehow. It’s just not flowing. And this makes me nervous, because poetry is my lifeline to writing on the whole.
Usually, it happens spontaneously. Something will happen, or occur to me, and I will have to write it down in a rush, then edit it, then voila! A poem. Bam, just like that. A few a week, usually. But lately…nothing.
Yesterday, I made myself write one. It was about the Out of the Darkness Walk that I do every September. I decided I would write it as a warm-up…give myself a topic (the walk, as yesterday marked one more month until the event,) and sit down at the computer and write something about it. I surprised myself, in the end. Which is a good sign.
Any time I surprise myself while writing, it means it’s pretty good. If I’m reading back what I’ve written and I’ve forgotten I was the author, then it’s really good. These are the standards by which I judge my work. It felt like, for some time, this wasn’t happening for me. Nothing was surprising me. I feel very hopeless in these moments, as though the muse has left and will never return.
But then I wrote a little poem, and it’s kind of good. Then, I wrote another…not as good, but the fire was there. I wrote a third. And a fourth…
By the end of the day I had my fall submissions ready to go. Yesterday morning, I had nothing. I had the feeling of self-doubt that consumes the writer who doesn’t know what to write about. I had the voice in my head whispering that it was all crap. But, last night, I had a full submission packet and several new poems.
The muse is not dead. Sleeping, perhaps. But not dead.