Negotiating with the Muse: Sometimes I Say to a Poem

In an ideal world I would get up at 10, after a leisurely read in bed, scribbling notes in my journal as I read. Then after a lingering bath, I would paint naked with my hands and eat chocolate. A steamy shower would be required afterwards, which may or may not require the attendance of a dexterous lover. Before sleeping the afternoon away, a walk barefoot on the grass, a divine dinner, and then writing fuelled by the midnight oil from ten until 2, or 3am.

But now I am a mama, my creative territory looks a lot different, and my creativity must flow in more constrained circumstances.

I must negotiate with the muse.

One of the quotes that jumped out to me when compiling, The Rainbow Way (which I have just sent off to the publishers!) was Erin Darcy of Starving Artist Ink who referred to her creative muse as a hard mistress, who she had to renegotiate terms with as a mother and insist on no more late night ravaging! Something most of us creative parents can TOTALLY relate to.

I have recently fallen head over heels in love with the work of Hafiz, a thirteenth century Persian Sufi poet. I was reading his book, The Gift, this morning when I came across this poem all about negotiating with the muse, which made me belly laugh (and feel just like a laughing buddha!)

Laughing Buddha. Image from

Sometimes I Say to a Poem
Sometimes I say to a poem,
“Not now, 
Can’t you see I am bathing!”
But the poem usually doesn’t care
And quips,

“Too bad, Hafiz,
No getting lazy – 
You promised God you would help out
And He just came up with this 
New tune.”

Sometimes I say to a poem
“I don’t have the strength to wring another drop
Of the Sun.”

And the poem will often 

By climbing onto a bar-room table: 

Then lifts its skirt, winks, 
Causing the whole sky to 

Sound familiar?!

How has your creative practice, and relationship with the muse had to change as kids, or work has come along? And how do you like to work, given an ideal world? Do share!

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