On ordinary days, as I go about my business I have at least a couple of topics for posts running through my head. On less ordinary days, themes and phrases tumble around in my brain like lottery tickets just before a drawing.
But yesterday was different. I could not think of a single thing to write about.
Now I know very well that there\’s no such thing as nothing to write about. Not for nothing did I spend a couple of decades studying and then teaching French lit, many of whose masters prided themselves on making something out of nothing (“faire quelque chose de rien”). A hint of adultery here, a spot of introspection there, and voila: a 500-page masterpiece.
On a day when I feel only some reluctance to write, I just focus on whatever is in front of my nose—say, my hand—and pretty soon stuff comes to me: how it\’s getting bonier, how it reminds me of my father, how I\’ve never been able to grow my nails, or keep polish on them for more than five minutes. And each of those thoughts can take me in a dozen different directions.
But yesterday my reluctance was absolute. I had run up against a stone wall—not a hard thing to do in Vermont—and I couldn\’t even write about the wall. My Muse, I suspected, was hiding behind it.
Sometimes if I don\’t feel like writing I go do something else for a while, then give the Muse a whistle and she comes running. I spent the entire day yesterday doing something else, then whistling, then doing something else again. But she didn\’t show.
Eventually, I gave up. The Muse, I decided, was taking a nap. Maybe she was cold. After all, my hens have stopped laying the last couple of frigid days. Why shouldn\’t the Muse get a break too? So she did, and today, I\’m glad to say, she\’s hovering near.
When your Muse yawns, how do you react?