Dear Universe, Please Deliver One Muse.

A message to the universe

Photo by Lindsey Garrett on

Sometimes I write because I see it as a method of getting an idea out there into the universe, as if the universe will supply me with something I need to deal with it creatively. Part of my belief system holds that, if one listens closely enough, the answers or comfort or solution is out there. I like whoever’s providing the aid to know what I’m asking. It comes from Quakerism and it also comes from the Christian belief of praying for what you need. I don’t know if I believe in what would be called “intercessory prayer” in some circles wholeheartedly, because my spirituality has become a muddle from the time a psychiatrist diagnosed me as bipolar. But I put words out into the universe occasionally, with some witnesses to hear. That’s you.

My life with the muse

Right now, I struggle with creativity. The spark is gone. I am writing without that burning desire to see what comes up next in my work. Everything I write feels pedestrian. I lay my problem on the muse I have had throughout my career. Muses exist to give motivation. For example, my writing life goes like this:


I assume the muse enters at the inspiration part of the equation. I used to get inspiration from my dreams. My dreams haven’t come from a muse lately. They’ve come from the Karen of my subconscious. In my dreams, I forget little things like showing up for class (I’m the professor) and wearing clothing. I’m doing everything wrong, and I am about to be discovered as a fraud. My bad dreams don’t even have the courtesy of being a dystopic plot line, preferring instead pedestrian impostor syndrome.

As muses are notorious for whipping up their subjects into a creative fury, I lay the problems of my obsession stage on the muse I’ve had as well. The obsession is the need to get into the story to interrogate the dream. I want not just to know the story but to be in it. To be it. It’s an exhilarating feeling, like flight. The obsession part is alright, unless it’s not. I know writers go a little crazy when they write, but my obsessions come with hypomania. I get into mood swings that swing between elation and Subconscious Karen, telling me I’m out of control, as if she fears I will skip class and run around naked. (Thank God I have done neither.) So I don’t get wild, but I fear giving creativity any quarter will cause the calamity I dream of.

Go away, muse

So I fired my muse. Those obsession parts were too wild, and I feared sliding down a slippery slope to a bacchanalia in the middle of the University Ballroom and all those other explosions Subconscious Karen feared. I never have experienced the wild elation since I fired my muse. I miss it sometimes, but it’s nice not having Subconscious Karen around all the time (she’s only around sometimes now, usually when I’m under a lot of stress).

Now I wonder if I can hire a new muse. I don’t want an erratic, frenetic, startling muse anymore. But I want a muse to inspire me without the feeling that I’m about to choose to swing naked on that chandelier. There has to be a middle between swinging on a chandelier and Subconscious Karen.

It’s not about a muse, is it?

Writing this article has been alchemy. I discovered, in writing this, that it was about writing with bipolar disorder. Although I am convinced that I am not less creative with the bipolar meds, I don’t know how to grasp my creativity as readily as I would like to. In a hypomanic state, ideas jump at me and I grab onto them and run. I feel touched by the muse and my self-doubts melt. I feel gifted, and this makes writing easy. Subconscious Karen keeps me from veering off the deep end but makes my life uncomfortable and my mood swings worse. I have given up those things which encourage artificial highs (irregular sleep, extended stress, obsessive crushes) and thus have robbed myself of the muse.

My thought going out into the universe: Help me live with Subconscious Karen in a way that doesn’t rob me of joy. Help me find inspiration without obsession, intensity without disruption, creativity without condemnation.


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