Chasing the Muse

Who doesn’t want to be like the most famous expat writer ever to land in The City of Lights? Minus the whole booze and self-inflicted shotgun blast to the face thing, of course. From an editor’s perspective, Earnest Hemingroid must have been a bloody pain in the ass. My concern would have been that he’d get shredded by a giant cat while off on one of his drunken hunting expeditions in Africa, or shredded by a little something he had on the side in between marriages. Apparently, he lined up female companionship like he lined up shots of whiskey. The possibilities for folly were endless, but it was all good fodder to feed the animal genius that he was. And he was.

There was a time when I needed an artificial boost to do just about anything, except what I did was just about nothing.

As a writer, I need to dig deep and look for my muse somewhere beyond the bottom of the bottle. The magic crutch is gone. I could grow old waiting for the muses to show up and tell me what to write. I am willing to start with that first ugly sentence.  I invite the muses–nine Greek Goddesses, keepers of artistic inspiration–in by taking action. If they don’t show up, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been stood up on a date.

“Les Muses,” Maurice Denis, 1893. Musee D Orsay, Paris

Without the muses, I attend a writer’s group here in Paris. Thankfully, the writing is all English. Or maybe not.

So, here I sit in the throes of want at Shakespeare and Company for this critique group. Once again ready to strip naked, bare my soul and be smacked down by the next generation of young Ernies, who themselves, are on their way to the fields of war, the outer reaches of space, the love chamber and the hangman’s noose or wherever their keyboards will take them.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Ernest said, “People are way more interesting when I drink.”

People were way more interesting when I took acid.

Turns out, Ernst knew a lot of interesting people. Fitzgerald may have had a brief epiphany when he said, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” Put that little nugget in your blueberry smoothie. Booze helped shove F. Scott over to the other side at forty-four.

I love Hemingway the writer. I have empathy for Hemingway the man. His writing aside, internally I have been where he has been, except that last nasty bit.

My bottle emptied out when I was young and I got to wrestle with my demons while in prison where we could all be contained. My expectations are that I just have to be better than I was yesterday. The only thing I’d be writing if I took a drink would be unanswered letters to my soon-to-be-ex wife from jail. Maybe a good story for someone else to write. As for me, I’ve already written a memoir.

I can’t have 9 drunken imaginary women hanging around inside my head telling me what to do. My muse must live outside the bottle.

Lion photo courtesy of the brilliant:

Adam King

Shakespeare Book Company photo courtesy of the not-so-brilliant… me.

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