The Muse: Writing is Healing

Hello, and welcome to the newly rebranded Muse. Hopefully, you tuned in to C’s last update, because things, they are a-changin’. Essentially, responsibilities, adulthood, and the pursuit of free time have put an end to our rigid posting schedule and we’ll be focusing on delivering high-quality content on more of a monthly timeline.

So, yes, the Muse will no longer appear strictly on Mondays, but I think this will result in more inspired posts as opposed to the “oh-shit-it’s-Monday-what-can-I-write-about” pieces of the past.

With that in mind, I present to you, Cacti community, my first new Muse.

It’s Tuesday. Two days ago, my family made the difficult decision to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Fritz. He was almost 14 and debilitating arthritis was getting the better of him. The vet said he was suffering. He said it was time.

This weekend easily ranks as one of the worst in my life. Fritz was a sweet, loyal, neurotic wookie-like bear and it pains me that I couldn’t say goodbye in person. I spoke with him via a video chat with my dad the evening before, wishing I could reach out and scratch his ears. He was pretty alert, though he couldn’t do more than lie there. He knew it was me and listened to my words: the hollow “good boys” and choked up “the pain will all go aways.”

I made my parents promise to stay with him until the end. They kept their word, braving those final moments and making sure Fritz was surrounded by people he loved.

This was of significant importance to me, because one of my greatest regrets is that I wasn’t there when our cat was put to sleep. Granted, I was in high school at the time, but I was a snivelling coward and I left a scared animal that I cared deeply for to face the unknown without a loving friend nearby.

It doesn’t make things any easier and it certainly doesn’t make up for my past mistakes, but knowing that Fritz was accompanied by family and that he went peacefully provides a kind of closure I never got the last time I lost a pet. Fritz knew he was loved and cherished. That’s all anyone could want in their final moments.

Now, obviously, this hasn’t exactly been a Muse, but I feel that writing and sharing my grief is an important part of the healing process. Putting my thoughts down and taking a moment to reflect is my next step forward. Keeping my thoughts locked in while crying in the fetal position probably isn’t healthy after a certain point. So, let the healing begin.



Monday Muse: Inspiration for the Uninspired

It’s Mondayyyy. And, lordy, was it ever a long one. BUT, I’ve been a very bad blogger as of late, so I’m going to put together a Muse even if it kills me.

So, lately, I’ve been pretty uninspired. I’m tired, I’m bored, I’m feeling unproductive, and the news/political nonsense have me on edge. All. The. Time.

Also, I haven’t done much writing. This, in spite of the fact that I’m pretty much always daydreaming about my latest projects. I take notes as necessary, but trying to sit down and find the right words for these characters seems like a Herculean task.

I’m slowly crawling out of this funk, and the catalyst was undoubtedly having the chance to meet Imbolo Mbue. Her author talk back for Behold the Dreamers provided tons of inspiration, but it was after the event that this uninspired writer truly found inspiration.

I spent a few minutes speaking with Ms. Mbue one-on-one, asking her writer-y questions that she graciously answered. I was most interested in the fact that she is a “self-taught” writer. She has several degrees (none of them in writing) and she never intended to be a writer, it was just something that felt right.

As someone who has loved writing forever, but never really gotten a chance to take a “formal class,” this gives me so much hope. My writing could, indeed, be worth publishing even without a master’s degree in writing. It’s all a matter of being true to the story and knowing that sometimes the process of writing is going to feel like I’m chipping away at a house-sized hunk of rock.

Mbue described writing as a journey of self-discovery even as you discover the story and characters that speak to you. Writing is an extension of yourself, so, yes, it has ups and downs. The important thing is to come back and keep chipping away at that rock, because eventually you’ll end up with a diamond.


Monday Muse: Write Something. Write Anything

Hello, friends! Welcome back to Nerd Cactus for yet another Monday Muse. Today is my first day off in a week, so forgive me if my writing betrays how fried my brain is. 

Last night I began thinking about what today’s topic might be and I have yet to settle on a fully developed topic. I considered writing about the sins of half-assery when it comes to exploring your creativity, but the danger of half-assing an entire post on the subject was too great given my current level of rehearsal fatigue. What about writing a piece on the appearance of the James Patterson Masterclass ads that keep popping up unsolicited? “Do you have a novel inside you?” It’s getting a little silly… At around 2:30am I considered writing about the pros and cons of floating around half-baked ideas to friends whose advice may or not be of any help. I currently have several such concepts, but given that they are merely ghosts of ideas it isn’t really an applicable topic yet. Also, whether to share story possibilities before having a clear picture is a matter of preference and not really worthy of a post.

So, no, I did not start this post with a clearly defined topic, but at least I’m writing. C has said it before and I’ll say it again, “always be writing”. Write to-do lists, write things you overheard your boss say, write love letters. Even if it’s just some gibberish to practice your grammar. Hell, I barely understand the concept of a comma. Well, I do… but I often write faster than the natural pauses in sentences tend to happen (i.e. I tend to write according to an inner monologue that has no sense of how sentence structure works). Also, my mom is German and those people sure love their long, run-on sentences. Go ahead. Check my comma placements. I know it’s bad. C knows it’s bad. C probably knows better than anyone. That’s why she’s getting a “Comma Police” T-Shirt for Christmas.

Now, I’ll admit that I don’t do as good a job following that advice as I’d like to… Sitting down to my computer and setting aside time for words is often easier said than done. But I do have a full-to-the-bursting OneNote that speaks to my resolution to put down my thoughts instead of letting them float away like so many strands of freshly brushed hair (Yes, I’m a shedder). Anyway, just remember that if you are busy or tired or feeling super meh, you are not alone. Maybe scheduled writing doesn’t work for you and a notepad is your solution. Doesn’t matter. Just write whatever comes to you whenever you have a scrap of paper and a pen. Hell, write with lipliner if something compelling comes to you.

The point is, you don’t always have to be writing the next New York Times Bestseller. Don’t hold yourself up to crazy standards and don’t impose criticism on everything you set down. It doesn’t all have to see the light of day. It’s ok if you write a shitty haiku about Zac Efron’s body just don’t admit it was you… (PS this is actually a real thing