So let’s say there really are 9 of them. They get us to the computer or the spiral notebook or the back of the napkin. Words come out of us, sentences form and something clicks. We are in the writing zone. Sometimes paragraphs seem to come out full-blown like Athena bursting forth from the forehead of Zeus. Other times we tinker and prod and bribe a word or two until finally there is some semblance of language that we can live with.
Some of the best moments happen when we are surprised. When we read our words and find them beautiful, poignant, frightening, funny or meaningful. They make a connection we had no idea they were going to make. They read, as John Gardner tells us, like a continuous dream, and we are not entirely sure how in the world they got there. Did I actually write that contributes to the magic and myth of the writing process, but also fuels the sense I often get of being a fraud. I think just because it happened once (ok twice, ok maybe more than that) doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. And what then?
I suppose we turn to our Muse. Here are my nine:
(1) Walking the beaches along the East coast off-season
(2) Talking about, looking at, smelling, gobbling up really great books
(3) Macaroni and cheese (even vegan versions)
(4) Travel (usually anywhere but sometimes Florida doesn’t work)
(5) Not wearing underwear (for those of you worried, this only happens at home)
(6) People watching at cafes, funky restaurants, parks, farmers markets, Home Depot and train stations
(7) Listening to writers (especially the ones I admire) talk about writing
(8) A clean kitchen
(9) The smell of October