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Monday, July 28, 2014

Paying Attention and Refueling the Muse

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
We just got back from a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. This was a much-needed vacation after several stressful months at the day job. We met some friends up there who spent the first part of their journey hiking up Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. We opted out of that hike due to my bum knee and my husband's doubts about whether he could make it up and back in a reasonable amount of time. This allowed us some time to explore the lesser traveled roads of Schoodic Pennisula and the surrounding area. Winter Harbor and Schoodic and the small lobstering village of Corea were stunning, to say the least. We took the scenic route on our bicycles. We had been to the other parts of Acadia before--one earlier year we got married on a former fishing boat in Frenchman's Bay and met Jen and Eddie and Mack Ten. We were fortunate to be able to see and talk to Jen again, although we did not get to take her out to dinner as we had hoped due to our poor planning. Jen was the one who married us and helped set up the wedding by sea, complete with decorations, on her husband Eddie's boat. She arranged for a flower-topped cake and lobster dinner right on the boat. Sadly, that boat was destroyed in a storm while sitting at dock and Jen and Eddie had divorced. We found this out on a return trip to Maine three years ago and the feeling of loss was overwhelming for everyone. Jen seemed happier this time and my heart was glad. Our marriage, thankfully, has survived longer than the boat, but we were so sad about the loss of The Seal. My husband, Kevin, had been on that same boat long before we met, for a whale-watching adventure. We didn't know it was the same boat until our wedding when Kevin and Eddie were talking about its origins.

Maine, and Acadia especially, is a special place for me. It inspires and soothes me. It is so beautiful that I can't really do anything else while I'm there except try to take it all in. I brought my computer and my journal, thinking I would be so inspired I would have to write. I didn't write a single word while I was there. At first, I was concerned, but then I realized, I was was refueling the muse. It was okay not to write because I was filling my tank. I did feel a little bit guilty when I checked Facebook and saw my prolific writer-friend Gregory Norris practically hemorrhaging prose in fits of amazing productivity and success. Kudos to you, dear Gregory! I will never, ever be that capable of such output. But, I think that's okay. As long as I don't stop. As long as the ideas are still flowing. I will continue to do what I can. I am excited about my next book. I have been jotting thoughts haphazardly in a notebook and on index cards and I had hoped to begin working on the meat of the story in Maine. I didn't accomplish any writing, but I did cleanse my cluttered mind with some salt sea air and got a couple things ready for my editors at Unsolicited Press So, if the mission was to renew my muse, well, check that done!

It's hard to share something that means so much with other people. Writers do this all the time, I suppose. At least to the point that they cut out their hearts and bleed all over the page. Minor surgery, ha! Just as Acadia means so much to me, so does my writing. Writing needs the reader to complete the cycle, but it's not without trepidation. When we offered to show our friends the wonders of Acadia, we were a little concerned. Would they like it? Would it move them as much as it moves us? What if they hate it? At the same time, with age, I have developed some ability to distance myself from other people's experiences. If our friends did not love Acadia as much as we, well, so be it. We would be disappointed, but only in that they could not receive the full gift of such a place as we know it. Am I disappointed if someone doesn't like my writing? Yes, indeedy! But, I really try to listen now. Usually, I find the reader has something helpful to offer. I am also a reader, after all! The reader might find something I didn't notice in my first fifty writings of the thing or maybe he will offer a different perspective I hadn't considered. Hopefully, this is happening before the publishing stage, but not always, I'm sure. I might go back and rework it, if it makes sense to me. Or not. Everyone has a different experience, depending on their background. The fun part is in the paying attention. Pay attention to as much as possible, and the gold will reveal itself. That's what I choose to believe. Maybe you have a different experience. But, if I can touch just one heart, it's all worth it.

Keep paying attention. It all goes by so fast. Thank you for reading.