A Drought of Words: Where Did the Muses Go?

Like breathing, writing can be full and deep, ragged inhales and shallow exhales, or the worst: the held breath. When the words shout in my mind I am driven to the pen and page (or cursor and screen) to let out loud trumpets. When they urge me to keen, I wail across the page, writing in scratches that sometimes ooze, burn and scar.

 

By Julia W. Prentice

 

When I first began to write as a teen, fear cramped my hand, the pen shook and I stuttered to express what was locked inside, trying to escape.

I shared with no one, they were love songs or dirges written by me for me. I believe the words saved me, in many many ways. Writing was rescuing my mind from my thoughts. It brought me freedom, eased my breath and let me live life more fully. It wasn’t until many years later that I began hesitantly to share some of them, especially the painful ones, still in excruciating terror of judgement or rejection.

These days words have come often in waves, speaking in mighty shouts, half voiced whispers or keening cries. Like breathing, writing can be full and deep, ragged inhales and shallow exhales, or the worst: the held breath. When the words shout in my mind I am driven to the pen and page (or cursor and screen) to let out loud trumpets. When they urge me to keen, I wail across the page, writing in scratches that sometimes ooze, burn and scar. The state in between is to sit comfortably and begin to write, no thought or plan…stream rather flowing with ease, trickle and wash and ebb. These are the easy days.

Yesterday when I wandered in my mind it seemed full of empty streets—no population of words pouring out of doorways.

No teeming throngs to fill the reverberating silence. My muses seem exceedingly fickle, gone out to lunch without informing me. Left wallowing in self-pity and aggravation sitting in front of a blank page, a blank screen. World events leave me dizzy but dry as a desert gulch; old bleached bones in a skull staring back up at me, laughing. The river bed a dessicated trail through my Death Valley.

This drought of words has continued on for days, each hour a spectre of loss, haunting me and leaving me locked inside my hurting mind.

Recollection back to a time of rampant roaring river, all nine of the apocalyptic horses riding a cresting wave of emotion, tumbling over mossy rocks. Each droplet of water a word—a thought—and cascading one after the other, almost too fast for flying fingers to capture, or those horses drop their heads in the stream, my meditative muses gaze and wonder.

They have turned inward as I catch spray, drops weighing on my tongue like honey, each lingering floral taste a new delight.

Some days writing is a heady cogitation over hours, holding each word, savouring the delicate nuances. Plucking blooms or tossing them aside. Trapping droplets to splash on white vellum leaving my mark for the world.

When will the dried up river trickle, then run laughing and gushing, pouring onto page after page? I can’t predict. Ask the nine fickle ones, they hold the answer to drought or flood.

I am just along for the ride.

 

Julia W. Prentice ​was published in ​Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry,​ ​Poetry as a Spiritual Practice: Illuminating the Awakened Woman, ​(Dragonfly Press, 2016). She was a co-editor and contributor to Goddess: When She Rules—Expressions of Contemporary Women. (2017) She was a finalist in The Poet’s Billow ​Atlantis Award, ​in 2015 and had a poem nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017​.​ She graduated from Clark University with a BA in Foreign Language & Literature. She currently works as a Mental Health Peer Specialist for the non-profit, Making Magic Happen—People Helping People. For her, writing is like breathing: deep inhales, ragged gasps and quiet whispers as she stories her passions of the heart. She recently moved to North Carolina, where she writes and enjoys the company of the love of her life and her furry companion.

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall

 


 

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