Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Three days ago I was writing madly about a discovery I had made. It was about coming to Italy in part to practice my art and then breaking my elbow and finding after the cast was off that I couldn't connect with that artistic part of my emotions. How devastating that was to me. How after twelve days in the mountains I found my voice again and felt lighter, physically and emotionally, than I have in months. It was pretty good, with all kinds of comparisons between music, which I know so well, and drawing.

We came back to Florence a few days ago and I have been busy cleaning (just believe me when I tell you that with the house completely closed up the dirt of Florence manages to coat every flat surface after a few days) and babysitting. Two days ago I had my first chance to get out and draw. It was terrible.  It hurts to say that, because when it's working (to share one comparison from the post that wasn't) it's like playing a difficult piece of music with more than the right notes. When it's working you get goosebumps, the outside world fades into the background. It's a very emotional thing.

When I get it right, that's what drawing is for me. A completely absorbing, body and mind experience that fills my soul with joy. Sounds corny, and maybe it is, but I feel fortunate to be one of those people who can experience joy in many different ways.

That morning, when nothing worked and I walked for three and a half hours and had really nothing to show for it I felt sad. It's scary to suddenly lose the ability to do something. I know that drawing isn't a vital skill like walking or breathing, at least for most  people. But for me it is like breathing so it's like developing asthma. Suddenly, what always happened without thought becomes a struggle. And a frustration, because I could do it so easily before. This isn't some new thing that I am learning, but something I have done my whole life. This must be what writers' block feels like. Almost dead inside and so very very quiet.

Oh, I have no happy ending for you. I didn't get up the next day and find my muse standing at the front door with a "where the hell have you been, I've been here the whole time" look on it's face. I didn't open a sketchbook and hear violins playing as beautiful lines flowed off the end of my pen. Nope, I opened up my sketchbook and thought "wow, that page is white." That's it. I'm starting to wonder if my trouble is that I can't connect with this city the way I connect with the countryside. Which makes things very difficult, because I live in the city. This is where I need to trap, I mean find my muse.

So for now I will take my sketchbook with the very white pages out into the city and fill those pages with uninspired and crappy work, hoping that eventually my city muse will walk by and sit next to me for a bit. Any suggestions on what kind of bait works best for an artistic muse?


  1. Be patient with yourself Michele. I can connect on two levels: as a writer and as a runner. Sometimes, especially when I am going through some kind of life event or suffering the darkness of depression, my writing is horrible. I just look at a blank screen and the cursor damns me to a life without words. Same with running: some days are horrible and I feel like my feet weigh a thousand pounds, and the very next day that feeling is but a distant memory. You and your muse are still connected. Maybe you are just taking a time-out! Try doing giant math problems for a while and see if your brain softens up a bit!

  2. thanks Wendi. I knew you would understand. Of course the 24 hour clock is still a giant math problem for me, so I don't know how well that will work. PS I have been told (albeit by my baby brother, so we must consider the source) that my brain is already soft.