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Writer Without a Clause: My Muse Must Have Fallen to Covid



What would Peter have been without Tinker Bell? Can you imagine the Lone Ranger sans Tonto? Tom without Jerry? Martin minus Lewis. And where would Blake Lively be without Ryan Reynolds? Okay, I have no idea who those last two people are. I found them on a list of the top celebrity couples. I just wanted to sound like I'm connected to the present in some vague way.

When I sat down to begin working on this essay, one thing overwhelmed my mind, and that was that I had no idea what to write about, which of course is the definition of these articles called, "Writer Without a Clause". So I was committed. I had to write about having nothing to write about.

For those who are unfamiliar with my "Writer Without a Clause" articles, they are a result of me sitting down to write when I have nothing specific on my mind. I just go with what comes into my head.

So the theme of this essay is me without my muse. The absence of my muse, my animus, my inflatus, the cause of all my literary effects is devastating to me as a writer. She disappeared just about the time the coronavirus hit. That's why I think it got her.


The virus must have stalked her one night as she walked home from my place. We had experienced a fulfilling period of words flowing out of a reservoir that would never run dry. Plot, characters, dialogue and subtext were brilliant.

Then she was gone. And she hasn't come back. That was about six months ago. Covid had just hit, and my muse was nowhere to be found. Can muses have underlying medical conditions?

If she's really gone for good, can I hire a new muse? Do they have agents?

I remember when I was in 4-H as a kid. My project was to raise and show a Holstein calf at the county fair. I had to train her to be led by a halter and lead rope. When she stood still, waiting for the judge to examine her build, her feet had to be in a certain position. Her head was to be held high and her back straight.

All of this took time and discipline. The calf and I built a relationship during the hours we spent together. After the fair, my father sent her off to a pasture that was several miles away. Even if I could have gotten there, she was lost in the herd. I was heartbroken, and I imagine she was as well.

That is how I feel about my muse. She is gone, and I feel the pain of that separation. Covid took her from me. I am already a widower. Am I so again?

Or Frodo Without Gandalf

But life must go on, right? I have to find a way out of this funk. If I am truly a writer, then I can't not write. But that's what I've been doing for six months...not writing. At what point do I look back and say I was just kidding myself about being a writer?

But maybe she hasn't abandoned me. Is it possible that my muse has been buried under an avalanche of emotional distress? Early on, we watched the daily briefings from the White House. Dr. Fauci helped us face reality while giving us hope. But at the same time, people were dying by the thousands. Today, one person I know has died from this disease. I know three others who have tested positive. I expect that number to rise.

Last spring I was very sick. I have never been that ill before. It was a respiratory infection of some kind. It preceded the commonly accepted date of the covid outbreak in the U.S. by a few weeks. Did I have an early case in southeastern Ohio? I won't know until an antibody test is widely available.

We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, and a nation of people we barely know, but love. Is all of this enough to squelch a person's creativity?

I wonder if you, my friends here on HubPages, have felt this same anomaly. I would appreciate you sharing your experience in the comments. If you could write an article about your time as a writer during the covid crisis, that would be even more me and to others. If you do write an article, please mention it the comments section here.

I have so many friends here who write on a variety of topics. Some of you are able to communicate scientific information. Others tell us about delightful recipes. I enjoy the poems and short stories of my comrades. Your essays/sermons/articles go on and on. How has this pandemic impacted you as a writer? I want to know. We all want to know.

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A Challenge

To end with, I want to ask for your help. Challenge me. Issue me a personal challenge. Would you like me to write a piece of short fiction? A poem? An essay? Give me a very brief description of what you expect, and I will write it. Your description may be as brief as a few words. As an example for a short story, give me a genre (sci fi, horror, comedy, etc), a location (anyplace works), and an object. I'll keep a list of requests if I have any.

The pandemic has silenced me as a writer. I do not like how this feels. Help me by sharing your own experiences in a comment or an article. Challenge me with a short story, poem, or essay idea.

For those who have also felt the dampening of their creativity, let me suggest that we get over it. We must continue doing the things we know will keep us and those around us well. But we have to move forward at the same time.

If you have been squelched by the crisis we are enduring, I challenge you to write. Tell us a story. Overwhelm us with a poem. Inspire our imaginations with knowledge. Tantalize our taste buds with a recipe.

Give us something from your heart.

A few other hubbers accept suggestions to write about. I think of John Hansen's (Jodah) Poems From the Porch and Bill Holland's (Billybuc) Mailbag.

My dear HubPages friends. Be well, stay safe, and write.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on December 06, 2020:

Greg, I read your comment a long time ago. I can't believe I didn't respond then. I am happy I was able to inspire you to write again. I hope you continue to put your words down for others to enjoy. My apologies for being so late here.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 17, 2020:

Chris - thanks for helping me snap out of it myself, my friend. This was great, and when I read it this morning, I sat down and wrote a piece as a sort of response. It's here, if you're interested:

I've not just been in a bit of a slump, I've also been busy with end of gardening season, canning, etc. Still, reading your article this morning inspired me to knock something out. Perhaps the "out of the blue" nature of this piece I put together will inspire you to write more, as well. I will say, though, that this piece you wrote is proof positive to me that you've still got it, and always will.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 16, 2020:

Chris, I imagine your Muse looking over your shoulder smiling. I think she helped you put this article together. I smiled too, all the way from the title to the ending. Good work, both of you!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 15, 2020:

Hi Chris...

My absence from HP of late is due to working far too many hours due to short-staff situations at work, which, of course, are related to the Pandemic. I have missed my favorite writers, and long to read and comment. I only recently discovered that we can no longer comment on articles that have been transported to the mystic world of LetterPile. And they have chopped up my poems with a slice 'n dice of ads. (Sheesh!) It's so good to see you, Chris. I look forward to reading more as I so enjoy your writing. Thank you!

Ruby, my friend, consider yourself hugged. We wish we had the words to lift you from that couch. And we know that if anyone can find her muse again, it is you. I can't tell you how many times your writing has lifted my spirits. Please know that you are genuinely loved; you, and your wonderful words are missed, dear heart.

Jack Shorebird from Central Florida, US on October 14, 2020:

Good hub. I haven't been writing much either and never called myself a writer. I am, I'm afraid, a learner, a history podcast freak these days and by trade, an investigator. In fact, I've once again taken to the streets in search of crime. I can't help it. It takes up so much time but that's okay. However, I might be able to help with this muse. Is there any evidence remaining? A statement, perhaps from a witness? Maybe we can find her. She could be lost. Nope, I think she's fine. Maybe, she's trying to tell you she's the boss and not to work her so damned hard! Suggested Muse helpers: Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey and Blue Highways, by William Least Heat Moon.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 13, 2020:

I'm on my way now, John.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 13, 2020:

Chris, I wrote something as requested:

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 12, 2020:

I have to agree with what others have said. Your muse hasn't deserted you, as this article has shown. She may not be as easy for you to find as usual, but she's still there!

Lora Hollings on October 12, 2020:

Chris, you always write with such feeling and imagination. You are a sensitive person and without a doubt I think that what others are experiencing you are feeling as well. I certainly have been hit hard emotionally by this and find it difficult to get through the day, many times, as I seem to be so lacking in energy. Sometimes, I feel like I'm just stuck in quicksand and just barely moving- trying to keep afloat. So even though I have many ideas, I can't seem to get them out on paper. I spend a lot of time with my pets giving them affection, playing with them, hoping that they can just distract me from this difficult time. I always loved wearing jewelry but now with a mask that great pleasure has been taken away! Who feels like being glamorous with a mask?! I certainly can relate to your article. I haven't been able to see my daughter nor my new grandchild in a long time due to this virus and that certainly hasn't helped.

Why don't you try writing about one of your happiest memories as a child, an adolescent, or even an adult that perhaps could help counter the gloomy effect of the corona virus and bring your muse back to life.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 12, 2020:

Chris, interesting that you should ask the same question I’ve been asking: Could the illness that I suffered that preceded the so-called date of COVID in my state have actually been the virus. I plan to write an article on this because I believe I have a good argument to present. Perhaps you do, too.

In the meantime, I haven’t been actively writing in quite a while, at least not since I had a stroke in October 2019, and then the hubby and I had what was taken for granted as the flu in early February. I tested negative for flu then, but wasn’t given a COVID test because they weren’t available. Four months later I was tested for antibodies and found negative, so what the Hell? But I’m blood type O, and we are said to be resistant to both the virus and the antibodies if we do catch it.

But my muse hasn’t deserted me. In fact ,my mind has been rather prolific. My muse has been quite busy. The problem is the lack of ambition to sit down at the computer and write up all this verbiage and garbage that he has been running through my mind. I’m hoping he will give me a swift kick in the pants to kickstart my ambition again. So, thanks for your essay. But as you asked, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 12, 2020:

I so enjoy your writing without a clause.

It seems like just sitting there letting the words come out works great for you.

I can understand why this covid has hit you hard since you work daily dealing with these issues.

Not alot of sleep & somehow you keep going.

Maybe write a poem that describes a brighter side of covid...if there is one.

Thanks for the share. I enjoyed reading it.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Pamela, Thank you for the encouraging comments. I will try to make one of my next stories something that is not horror.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 12, 2020:

Chris, I think you have shown us that your muse is still alive and well. I think a short fictional article would be excting right now as as I am not too big afan of hrror arfticles. I always llike your articles, so suite yourself.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Audrey, it is good to see you today. Please, just start writing that poem. It will be just like this series of mine, "Writer Without a Clause". I don't have anything in mind when I begin writing, yet it seems to come out ok most of the time. I will watch for your poem.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Liz, Thank you for your comments. I hope you will come back with a challenge for me.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Ruby, I accept your challenge. Thank you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Ruby, I am sorry you have been depressed. In the past, it was exciting to see you writing and sharing your work with us here. Please, dig deep and find a poem or a story. And yes, I am taking my own medicine. If we can rise up and begin writing again in spite of the pandemic, we will have won a significant battle in the war for our very souls. Catastrophes such as pandemics, hurricanes, famine, and floods seek to kill our souls, the part of us that feels, loves, and desires. Don't let it happen, Ruby. You are loved here on HP.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

My friend, Shauna, you are such an encouraging person. Thanks for your comments. I like your challenge. Weaving random objects into a story will be a lot of fun.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Eric, thanks for the kick in the butt. I needed it. If I have somehow been an inspiration to you, I am glad for it. Thank you for the encouragement.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

Ann, It is good to hear from you. I know that once we commit ourselves to a writing project and actually get it going, we will feel a lot better. Thanks for the story prompts. I will be on it soon.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on October 12, 2020:

John, I am looking forward to what you will write. Thanks for the story challenge. I'll get right on it.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on October 12, 2020:

Well, my muse has crawled into a closet, hidden away, and all the begging and pleading seems to be in vain. "Come out come out, wherever you are". But your muse is alive and well. Somehow it helps to know I'm not the only one in this position.

Maybe, I'll take you up on your challenge and write a piece of poetry

I love your writing! Thanks so much.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 12, 2020:

I think you still have your muse. The evidence is here in your writing. But I get what you are saying. The resurgence of COVID-19 these past few weeks is enough to put the damper on everything, including writing.

To be honest my imagination has gone to pot and I am struggling to think of a challenge. But I will be back as soon as I have!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 12, 2020:

chris, how about writing about being lost in a jungle and a bird ( a dove ) shows you the way?

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 12, 2020:

Chris, I know the feeling so well. I have not written anything for a long time, and the sad part is I have no desire to write. Just yesterday, I thought, " I am not a writer, and I really thought I was. " As you know, I love to rhyme. now I can't think of any words to rhyme. I know it's depression. I tried to take an antidepressant, and couldn't get off the couch. I have prayed. I try to forgive God for taking my son, but I still cry daily. I want to be excited about something. I want to read others writing, but my heart is not there. I am totally surprised that I am writing to you! Maybe I will get my muse back? She's probably down in Fla. having a blast like I used to in the winters. You are a wonderful writer!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 12, 2020:

Chris, you have been missed. It's obvious your muse hasn't completely abandoned you. Here she is in all her glory, filling the Writer Without a Clause page with new, inspiring material.

I don't think my muse has been affected by COVID. In fact, I've written more this year than I have in the past few. When she forsakes me, it's for reasons only she knows. I don't nag her about it because she always comes back when she's good and ready.

I do, however, understand the request for a challenge. Early this year I asked Bill to bring back his photo prompt challenges because my muse had been dormant for too long. I know how she loves those prompts, so I reached out and asked for help.

It worked!

So, here's my challenge to you (this was actually an assignment when I was in sixth grade and was loads of fun): Take three unrelated inanimate objects, such as a baseball bat, dollar bill, garbage can, and weave them into a story. I'll leave the genre up to you. If you take me up on this challenge, I'll tell you where I went with it in sixth grade. I wish I'd kept a copy. I received an A+.

It's great to see you back, Chris!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 12, 2020:

My friend this is an easy one for me to ask. You just overcame the resistance. You wrote and hit that dreaded "publish" button. Yahoo! for Chris the Cam man. I envision a kayak also leading to a hike. The smell of the pine needles underfoot. Perhaps that moon lighter than a reading light.

Now let me slip into that condemning preacher mode. You selfish no good lame butt. You have a gift freely given you. You have the audacity to blame not sharing it with us on a muse, which was also freely given you. How dare you not lighten our load with you stories and prose and lessons we need.

Ouch, that was rather harsh. Oh well let it stand. Hey that felt kind of good letting loose some of my feelings for my self on someone else.

Strangest thing. Reading this put a fire on my derriere that I needed. Holy cow you inspired and I think you might not have intended that. Just perhaps your muse was waiting for when I needed it most. Mysteries I say.

Aren't you some kind of decorated short story/flash fiction dude? Well then act like it. I await some massive flow since your flood gates are now open. You inspire me.


Ann Carr from SW England on October 12, 2020:

Well, Chris, for a start you have proved that your muse has not gone - she's here in this article. She is pushing you to ruminate on your abilities, your ideas, and to get us all to get back in the groove. That's inspiration!

I too have had some of those feelings. I am a naturally optimistic person but I must admit that I've been down in the dumps quite a bit lately. It's the lingering threat always in the background and the fact that we don't know its duration. I can't react as normal with my family and friends and that weighs heavily on me, especially family. This has impacted on my writing. I am also suspicious of everyone outside; there are many who don't keep the social-distance rule and that makes me angry (not one of my normal traits either).

Added to the muse thing, is HP's messing about with the comments facility. That depresses me because I need feedback, as I believe we all do.

Ok. I challenge you to write a short story reflecting your muse in Autumn, in an wilderness location, and include a stone archway.

Thanks for writing this, Chris. I am inspired by it although I'm refraining from writing fiction at the moment as they usually end up in the boring letter pile layout which I detest, with no comments at present. In the light of that, on second thoughts, maybe I should qualify your 'short story' as being a true account but written as if it were a travel article or similar? I'll leave that decision up to you!

Good luck and may your muse return with a vengeance!

Keep safe and well!


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2020:

Chris, great to see a piece of writing from you, even if it is about your muse deserting you. I always enjoy "Writer Without a Clause." I am glad you shared your situation, and I think the COVID-19 has affected us all in different ways, depending on our location and situation.

I will certainly take up your challenge and write something about how this pandemic has affected me. But, first a suggestion for you.

I have been playing around with words and titles for poems and stories lately and I wrote one satirical poem called "The Deadly iris." well, I have another idea in my head and I have been trying to turn it into a short story but I am struggling with it for various reasons. I may still complete it, but I have a lot of other projects and maybe the time just isn't right. So, as a way of maybe kick starting your muse again, here is a title, see what you can do with it. A short story or piece of flash fiction would be good. Title: "The Lesser of Two Elvis."

You don't have to take it on, but it is there if you want to. Good luck.

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