Sometimes, Virginia is balancing precariously on my right shoulder, jamming her bony heels into my clavicle and yanking the top part of my ear, leaning into it and telling me loudly what to write. She talks so fast I can barely keep up. I love those moments we have together. I must admit, though, they can get rather intense. There was a lot going on in her life. I think I have a lot to negotiate as a mixed chick? It’s nothing compared to what she went through as a mixed-race woman in antebellum Virginia!
Sometimes, though, I get busy with other demands. You know, like making sure I can pay the rent and other silly things. When I get too distracted, she kinda gets impatient with me, I think, and then she swooshes off to the other side of the room and stands there in a sulky grimace with her arms crossed. “Virginia,” I say collegially. She ignores me, maybe stirs up the pigs’ slop bucket. I mess with the knots in my frizzy hair and give her a day, two even, patiently waiting and proving that I really mean it. She turns away and walks outside to dump the chamber pot. At night, I walk around the bedroom hanging pictures of The Homestead and other meaningful Buckingham County landmarks. Nothing.
This is my life, for two weeks now. I go off to work and come home, maybe to find some scraps she left on the floor from when she fed the chickens this morning. Maybe some bits of her red hair on my pillow, like she’s been sleeping. I hate when she floats so far away from me like this.
So. What I’m going to do is conjure up some greats to help me get Virginia to forgive me, via Flavorwire. First, Miss Maya:
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou
Next, Norman Mailer:
“Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” — Norman Mailer
And finally, I love these words from Barbara Kingsolver:
“I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” — Barbara Kingsolver
Okay. Virginia, come talk to me! I love you!