I sold my soul a while back. It helps that I don’t think it’s eternal, and I got a fair deal for it.
I sold it to the Word Gods. They were supposed to trade me unlimited time with The Muse in exchange. Except, of course, it didn’t work out quite the way I thought it would. Selling your soul rarely does.
I thought unlimited time meant that when I called, The Muse would appear. But no, she’s a busy lady and apparently lots of folk have sold their souls in order to get a piece of her. So, really the way it works is, I call and then… Nothing.
Until 2am, or until I’m making dinner, feeding pets, listening to my children tell me about their day, helping my husband pay bills and trying to schedule appointments on the phone all at the same time. Then, suddenly, there she is, The Muse, tapping her foot impatiently because she doesn’t have all day.
And if I don’t stop EVERYTHING, right that moment, for her – she’s gone and all her wordly (yes, you read that right – word – ly ) inspiration is gone with her.
I’ve taken the advice of writers, artists and creative types the world over and I am never more than arms reach from paper and pen so that I can catch the bits of magic fairy dust that fall of Her when she leaves, and try to spin them into something solid in those rare moments when I’m not driving, not bathing children, not making a meal, not on someone else’s clock, not catching up, winding down, or otherwise spinning my wheels.
I have tried scheduling reliable time, setting appointments with The Muse, so to speak. That bitch is always late, if she comes at all. I’ve tried ambushing her – filling my day full to bursting and then cancelling everything right in the thick of it, hoping she’ll be tricked into coming, thinking it’s an inconvenient time for me. But she’s crafty. She knows.
I see her, sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, watching me, waiting to make her appearance. I beckon, and she turns away. I ignore her, hoping she’ll be starved for my attention and come begging, like a cat. Sometimes she does. But only sometimes. And, just like a cat, as soon as she gets what she came for, she disappears, faster than you can pin her down.
She keeps me up at night, tossing and turning in my bed. But when I give in to her demands and go to my desk, or pull out my notebook, she is gone – on to her next victim.
This is what happens when you sell your soul. You think you are doing the right thing, you think that you’ll be getting something for it – words, inspiration, health, happiness, money, something – anything. But mostly what you get is torment and suffering. Anguish, absolute anguish.
And I even sold my soul to pretty nice Gods, as gods go anyway. The word gods are much nicer than the corporate Gods who buy your soul for the promise of life draining stability and health insurance that doesn’t cover illness, injury, or their prevention. Those Gods are really evil.
Still, it’s days like this where I wake up already drained, already in need of a little boost, and I reach out in every way I know to The Muse, only to realize she’s on sabbatical, again, that I begin to despair. I wonder, should I ask for my soul back? Or is this torment part of the inspiration? Can I weave this angst into literary gold?
And then I go back to my computer and I open up my book, and I start to write. And even though the words come hard and choppy, I keep writing. And I keep writing, and I push away the whispers and doubts, the demons telling me that I’m writing total crap and I’m going to have to revise, no, I’m going to have to just scrap all of it, every word of the last thousand, the last two thousand words, but I don’t, I keep writing, and I keep writing, and then I see Her, The Muse, out of the corner of my eye.
And she is smiling.