Friday, 26 June 2009

"To Set a Place for the Muse"

He was always obvious about it. I couldn't tell if he was trying to make a point or if he didn't even think to conceal his affairs. Some bold friends asked me if I minded, but most stayed quiet and joined me in looking the other way. I could never explain to those that asked anyway, not really. Maybe I changed my mind every day, or maybe I just expressed myself differently each time I was asked, but I never did give the same explanation twice. I know that the truth was somehow all of the answers at once, even though they ranged from me crying with anger to me laughing with the joy of it all - that he had me to tend the needs of his home life and his muses for his art. I didn't want to be that other woman, the one who had to be distant and diaphanous, who floated like Ophelia for hours on end until he had captured the perfect light. I prefered to wrinkle my fingers on more important things - my own expansive watercolours that threatened to drown me as they drew me in too close.

When the light faded each day, we curled our paint-spatter bodies together and fed our love in the dark. I was his vampire wife, he joked. I was his night-time, and that was enough for me. It was exactly enough. That all ended suddenly, in just the space of a sentence. It happened one evening, in the candle-lit dusk, as I was putting dinner on the table, he said to me: "Set a place for the muse."


  1. I hate this. It's too like the type of work that I've got stuck in recently. I'm hating my own writing. There's nothing real in it at all. I want to walk away.

  2. I really like this actually. it feels quite controlled (like a lot of your writing) and maybe thats what you mean but a lot of people would see that as a real strength. its like what you were saying the other day about every sentence being necessary. plus this is the stuff of stories: long, solid, wistful, aching, building stories. i think youre wrong to hate it.x

  3. I think this year (understandably so) I've become too controlled. I do believe that every sentence has to be essential, but essential in a lot of different ways, and at the moment I feel as though my writing's only working in one of those ways.
    I guess I just feel a bit sick of the same type of writing all the time, it's not necessarily that I hate the writing itself. I think in my next exercise I'm going to try and do something very at odds with my normal style.

  4. Do it, because, .why not! x

    This out of context:

    has to be essential, but essential in a lot of different ways

  5. I've found my way here from your blog Willow, and Lianne's too after a conversation about the idea of the 20 minute task, so I hope you don't mind me coming and having a quick read. Or just now contributing to this series of comments as it seems a bit like a private conversaion that I've accidently walked in on, but kept listening all the same - so i feel a weird sense of this isn't a place for me to be. Especailly as i don't ever write anymore.

    But I loved this particular piece of writing Willow. For me this is the type of writing I really enjoy in a good book. You've said there's nothing real in it, but for me it's the sort of writing which doesn't relate to my life at all and yet I can easily read it and become the person and feel it's as real as anything else. So i suppose maybe that means it is a bit make believe but then i still almost take on all the emotions i attribute to the charater and those emotions are real non-the-less because i feel them.

    Hmm actually i don't why i've just tried to exlain that as it sounds like a load of poncy shite, but what i mean is i really like it, i could read and read on and on.


  6. Thankyou for that Hayley, it is nice to have your comments here, so don't feel like you're intruding. It's good to have another perspective, and it's interesting to know how you feel about this. I think I do understand how it is that you like this, it has the feel of a lot of contemporary fiction in that the prose is solid and inviting. But I want there to be something more. Obviously thats a bit much to expect from a 20 minute exercise, but i think these exercises have made me see how stuck I am in that one specific style, which is not what I want. It's become a little stylised and souless. Today I'm going to do something different.