My Muse Is Silent

I am a writer, first, foremost, and always. I discovered when I was six years old that I was born to write, but I tried to escape my fate by trying my hand at acting, dancing, and especially music—I took a BA in music hoping I could be a composer. Because languages come easily to me (I have worked in seven), I became a linguist and a spy to earn a living, because writing doesn’t pay. I retired as early as I could to write fulltime. It worked. I now have six books and seventeen short stories in print.

I experience writing as if someone other than myself is dictating to me, and I have to write as fast as I can to keep up. I understand how the ancient Greeks came to believe in the nine muses who inspire human creators. When I write, it is as though the muse Calliope is feeding me the words and commanding me to write them down. It feels as though the creator is not me but a voice from outside me.

That’s how it has always been with me. But now my muse has gone silent. I sit at the keyboard waiting for inspiration, but nothing comes, and I write nothing.

The writer’s block, if that’s what it is, began a year ago last March when my partner of more than twenty years, Su, died. It is as though when I lost her, the words stopped flowing. At the time of her death, I was working on two novels. One was set during the 1967 battle of Dak To in Vietnam’s western highlands that I was very much involved in. The other was based on the history of my relationship with Su. Not a word has been added to either manuscript since Su’s death.

I don’t know what to do except to keep trying. Maybe one day soon, the words will start flowing again.

Wish me luck.

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