By Niamh Collins

It’s a question many have ‘mused’ (please forgive my shameless sense of Muse reiteration) over when sitting down to batter out any piece of writing, or art, for that matter and it is one I am convinced has alluded even the most talented among creative circles – where on earth do I find the inspiration? Where is that spark, that lightening bolt that is so often recreated on screen as divine intervention from above?

If I had the answer I would be a much more contented individual – no longer scanning the back of shampoo bottles to find an obscure prompt for the next Pride and Prejudice – (It’s not there I’ve checked…)

Many a writer will say that you have to work for inspiration, the more you write, the more ‘fruit’ you will produce, and then you can select the best of the ‘crop’ to show (or not show) to the world. But let us all be truly honest with ourselves – wouldn’t it just be so much easier if someone threw the talent of Virginia Woolf through your window and you awoke in a divine rapture to batter out 70,000 words by 6 am the next morning – edits by 7 and collecting your Booker prize by 3 O’clock… If you can make it being so overcome by creative genius you’ve spewed another 6 best sellers before your pre-lunch tea break?

Writers… close your mouths… It’s a bit of pipe dream… not that it couldn’t happen… I might write a book on it… I did try setting my alarm for 4 am to see if something would arrive at that moment… something did… anger – anger and a headache – you can’t stimulate creativity by depriving yourself of sleep. The result is a figure that looks strikingly like me… big dark eye bags, faint expression of impending collapse resembling something similar to intense concentration and laughing in a similar manner to that of a pantomime horse at… well… anything really.

The poem I’ve drafted below was a humble effort last night of where the inspiration came from a source currently hazed by the deep fog of meeting times, deadlines and shopping lists. It could have come from the chat I engaged in with a few family members about our funeral playlists (we’re a macabre bunch). I was personally vying for ‘highway to hell’ just so it would stick in mind, either that of Clair -de-  Lune –  both similar in potency. My mother’s dead set – (completely unintentional pun) on Eva Cassidy’s ‘Over the Rainbow’, my grandma either a hymn buried far back in the midsts of time that she heard in Church 4 years ago. It contained the word sheep, so that really narrows it down – on failing to unearth that hidden religious gem she will also find a selection of the best of the Beach Boys perfectly adequate, and that is in fact on the bottom shelf underneath the stereo for future reference. Another copy stowed in the glove compartment of her Mini apparently. Or on sale at HMV for £3.95. Unlike myself, she is far too prepared for her own good. It would not come as any surprise to me if she made picnic baskets in preparation for nuclear warfare (though after certain political outcomes recently I will not knock her for her precautions…)

Anyway, as often I digress, and I will now lay below an appallingly awful poem which was conceived (not at 4 am) but some ungodly hour of the previous evening. May it be a warning to all writers that midnight musing has mixed results, I will let you judge that for yourselves:

When my husband past,
On that foggy evening
Somewhere south of Holland Park
Where, cloaked, and intoxicated
On despair and tenderness
In equal measure
I fumbled for change in the hospital carpark.

As the backstreets,
Dimly lit

With the neon vibrancy
Of 90’s TV sets and smashed vacuum
Cleaners, lay dead on the pavement.

Concerning calls became
Irritating intrusion
And in bed he was replaced with
his shirts an illusion
Accompanied by his unwashed
As I rose in the night and
Trampled the well wishes
Of those
known and not so known
Who couldn’t help –
But break my door down.

I was insensitive
To my daughter
Whose tears
I labelled crocodile
Verbally beating
My son in law
Who slowly
bled my husband’s will.
Until I was left with
My name to an abandoned garage
14 miles from Battersea.

When those that ‘cared’
Threw flowers in his grave
And wondered where
The lack-lust lover –
Then turned wife
Had laid her head.

I approached a glass
Of Albarola
In a fragrant piazza
12 miles from Rome
Sniffing salt water
As they did the orchids
On the casket.

Away from the eyes
That sought to pry
In my grief and
Cucumber sandwiches –

I met with my lover.

My source of passion
Was his laughter
Devour aged
and playing
With hair
We had passed out
On the bank of
A dirt track
In the evening sun.
Living purely
For next bite and next kiss.
We awoke
to facial pains and
Hardened bread:
To laze upon the
Weeping pines
I toast him
With a glass of
Dry white wine.

Niamh Collins

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