Surrendering my work to the Muse

After the initial thrilling release of resigning my job last Monday, it took only about 24 hours for pure terror to set in.  There were three threads: “How will I replace that income?”, “What work will I do?” and “Who will I be?”  I had moments of elation still, but they oscillated very quickly with this cold fear running up my back.  Wednesday night, when I spoke on the phone to my men’s group, I did represent to them that I felt good about this move.  But I did also acknowledge the terror: “I’m afraid I won’t be able to support myself.”

The front of our grocery store is locally known as a hub of buskers.  Most of the time, we have a singer out in front of the store.  Thursday morning I was returning to work from my ten minute break – spent, as it was any time the weather allows, sitting on the curb around the corner…where I can be outside and by myself.  I saw Ginnie playing her guitar and singing, and thought “I could be a busker”.  “No you can’t – you can’t sing or play the guitar.”

Baba busker

In Buskerland outside of Earth Fare.  This guy’s sign says “Sacred Geometry, Numerology”.  “Spontaneous poetry” will not be a stretch for these folks – especially since so many of them already know and like and trust me.

Then it all started to bubble up.  My friend Lynn Adams had told me years ago about a busker at her local farmers market who set up a manual typewriter on a little table and sold poetry: you tell him what you wanted the poem to be about and he typed it up spontaneously as you stood there and you paid him for it.  Lynn said to me, “You could do this – you should do this.”  At that point, I really did not believe that I could to it.  Yes, when the Muse spoke to me I would write very spontaneously – it would all come out in a rush.  It came from somewhere else.  I tapped into Spirit.  But it mostly didn’t come when I chose it. It came when the Muse wanted to move me.  It was not poetry on demand – you pay me $x and I write a poem on the topic of your choosing.

But over the last few years I have been leaning into improv poetry.  First I did some at an Interplay workshop: I didn’t think I could do it, but somebody encouraged me to try.  It was killer and blew all of us out.  At Tom Kilby and Amanda Levesque’s Fringe Fest one-hour show two years ago, I inserted improv poetry at seven points in the show.  It was very successful – really captured/mirrored/amplified their own improv theater.  At Jessica Chilton’s Shine Expansive a few years ago I did some improv poetry that we all loved.

I’m ready!  I may not always feel the truth of this, but it is true.

3 thoughts on “Surrendering my work to the Muse

  1. Yes Yes Yes this is true! You are ready. We all need truth and inspiration in our lives, especially right now at this very moment… and this moment… and this moment. Bring it! Tell us when and where to bring our dollars and our needs.


    • Oh thanks Jill – such powerful affirmation. This is just exactly what I am saying and also what I need to hear reflected back. A couple of days ago, I went back and watched the video of Tom and Amanda’s one-hour fringe fest show. The show starts with five minutes of improv poetry from me – and then I intersperse my poetry another six times with their improv theater. That first five minutes is basically all very powerfully affirming Amanda. You might enjoy it.

      This whole idea of improv poetry – as something to really do, not just fantasize about – has come on so much in a rush that I have not yet created a file of “rainy day comments”,,,affirmations to keep me going on a hard day. But now I’m creating it. I’ve got to keep your comment where I will have easy access to it.

      Is this Jill Mackey here in Asheville?


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