Dear Pain: A Letter to My Muse
This is my example piece for the “Letter to Your Muse” writing exercise.
Note that my example is written in a lyric prose style. This is by no means a mandatory part of the assignment. Use your own voice and preferences; you can do anything ranging from an un-tethered rant to a direct imitation of invocations of the muse found in epic works.
You brittle bitch. You river nymph. You slut. Who hasn’t slept in your embrace? You hit my life like a storm of ice-shards the size of golf balls.
But you can be so beautiful. When life has no happiness to give me, you’ve been there to show me what’s left. I saw the beauty and depth within you as I stared into your eyes. Your cold fingers settled against the back of my neck and you whispered, “It only hurts because it matters.”
You wake me up when I’m settling into comfortable emptiness. When my life becomes a series of sleepwalker’s dreams, you shake me. Now, I’m moving forward into new arenas where I need the awareness, clarity, and understanding you give me.
I am balancing on a ledge between professional work, education, and creative projects. I am trying to dig into my past to find the parts of my story that need to be re-told—or told a different way. In my wide imagination, I’m trying to find the stories worth hearing. I need your help to find what really matters.
I know I haven’t always treated you well. Do you remember when I’d fled to the other side of an ocean trying to escape from you but found you as a stowaway in my chest? I commit to doing everything I can not to run from you.
Do you remember how weak I was, ready to collapse from resisting you? The cold of those dormitory showers in Scotland felt like enough to topple me. And then I opened myself to you and stood with my spine straightened under the frigid water. Whenever I can, I promise I’ll embrace you.
I spent so long rejecting you, telling you how unwelcome you were, screaming myself hoarse to silence what you tried to tell me. I recognize now that you were always looking after me. I shouldn’t have ignored you. I will do my best to sit quietly with you and listen.
We are each our own breed of wounded animal, but I’m more and more convinced that our tragedies don’t come from you but from the way we run. This world seems to hate you, but where would we be if you stepped out of our lives?
I don’t love you in the selfish way lovers do. I love you like I imagine I will love my children. I love you because you are mine—a part of me that is so myself it can’t be ignored, yet falls outside my grasp. I will strive to work patiently with you, even when it’s hard. I will take care of you. I will do my best to find places where you are safe. And I will never try to convince you that you don’t matter.
Rob D Young
I’d love to see your own responses to the “Letter to Your Muse” exercise. I encourage you to post those in the comment field of the exercise post.