I’m going to let you in on a secret. The truth is, I don’t always know what I’m going to write about in this column. My muse is elusive. She is moody and I am at her mercy.
Sometimes the cursor flashes on the screen marking the spot where the first letter should begin. I swear it gets impatient, like when your teacher taps their feet in irritation because you are the last kid in the hallway to tie up your shoes and class has begun. Hurry up, Waterhouse, don’t dilly-dally.
It’s not that I lack ideas. My mind is never blank. Ever. It’s quite the opposite. Picture a dryer full of colourful socks, hundreds of mismatched pairs all bouncing around on tumble dry. My head is that dryer, my thoughts are those socks, and I guarantee you, when it stops, there will be no matching pairs, and one will be missing. My innermost sanctuary is full of noise, as my mind revolves through emotions and scenarios, imagining a thousand outcomes to situations that haven’t even happened yet, recalling past scenarios that probably didn’t happen either, at least not the way I remember. Toss in a dryer sheet of anxiety and self-doubt, and put that machine on high (to be clear, there is tons of good stuff in there too, it’s just the good stuff is less noisy).
Inspiration is hit or miss. Some days the muse whispers the words so fast, I can’t type fast enough. It’s divine. But other days, my muse makes me sort through the socks to sift through the madness. When this happens, my husband, the Carpenter, is essentially a moving target. I know it. He knows it. We all know it. He inspires my best work with simple remarks or acts of innocent ridiculousness. If I am in a dry-patch for inspiration, I circle him like a hungry shark watching a surfer. I just wait for him to do something, anything, to give me a story.
To his credit, the Carpenter usually offers something up, like this little gem: despite a two-hour nap in the afternoon, I found the Carpenter peacefully resting on the couch. I thought I’d amuse him with a super funny story about a friend of mine, (super funny by my definition).
Suddenly, he starts yawning. I ask how he could possibly be tired after a long nap. His response? “You’re talking.” Ba-dum-dum.
As you can see, I don’t have to make stories up. I just have to live them. But when the clock is ticking and I am wandering the house in search of random socks, the Carpenter knows I require a hug, a kiss on the forehead and a sounding board. He has the uncanny ability to navigate the moods that come with being married to a creative person, and knows how to stop the dryer, pick the right sock, and set things in motion for me.
For this reason alone, the man deserves a medal. And considering the rewards of being married to a freelance writer is not financially or even physically alluring (I write in fat pants, frumpy sweaters and a pony-tail), I believe the Carpenter deserves saint status.
Writing isn’t a career; it’s a way of looking at the world. It’s being okay with unmatched socks. Open your heart and write it out. Truth.
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.