There might be no perfect city, but Florence comes damn close.
Sitting on the hotel’s terrace, the white and umber skyline breaks in a shower of angles, sharp corners interrupted from time to time by an arch, or a verdant dome.
The tourists’ group coming atop the Duomo’s dome, shouting out through the air, seems to share in the joy of the moment.
Down here, wind picks up the light towel’s corners and makes them flutter. The same flutter, much closer and stronger, dashes close when a group of birds flies in tight formation, sudden like a remote thought.
It is a pretty place, says the Muse, sitting next to me on a much nicer chair than I can afford. Then again, she does have much more powerful means than I do. The houses, the churches, the trees. I can see why you wanted to come here.
“I am in love with this city,” I mutter, typing on the soft keyboard. It’s easy to lift my gaze and look at the masonry belltowers and especially at the cathedral’s dome. The same stones looking back to us for the better part of six centuries. “It has everything I may need or want. And it’s the first place I ever felt truly free in.”
You think you could find more inspiration here?
It would be easy to reply that yes, I do. I do think I could work better. And yet for the past few days, I have not felt exceptionally gifted. Nor do I feel like I could make any amazing work of art just thanks to the place.
I have felt more at ease, but not more productive.
Nor more inspired than the usual.
I lean back against the chair and pull my fingers away from the keyboard.
“I think this was far more for me than…”
For me? She chuckles, then shakes her head.
The Muse is as striking as always: dressed in her gold and white flowing robe, covering her dark skin. She grins at me – a flash in those burning blue eyes of her as she passes a hand over her black lock, flowing in a dash of ink down her voluptuous body.
“I have given you more than nine months. Working and writing every day. I haven’t stopped.”
You are keeping faith to your own word. I appreciate that.
“I surely do live much better! You look so understanding right now because you are like a big fat cat who has feasted on cream for almost three hundred days! Every day, at that!” I chuckle in response. “I do remember how pestering you can be. How you will go back to be, once this year is over.”
Starting next February.
“If we are all still alive, yes…” I sigh, lowering the laptop’s screen. I just want to enjoy the sight for a bit. “I felt like I could have worked a little harder while I was here, but I also wanted to have fun. Visit friends, enjoy this city, do things like I have always wanted to.”
I asked for the bare minimum, she replied quirking an eyebrow. Isn’t that nice of me?
“Extremely nice – but I wonder how long it will last. This has been, how to say… a sort of a truce. I gave you what you wanted for the past nine months, and I got three days of peace.”
I feel like we end up making the same argument, over and over.
“We have different needs. I am only human, and I have other things I also need to attend to. I won’t be able to keep writing six or seven thousand words per day like this month. Nor publishing a new piece every day. I already feel tired.”
“Frayed at the edges.”
“Yes. Ha! That’s one of your best ones.”
“What’s going to happen starting February? I gave you everything you wanted and I managed to get at least three novels out of it, together with… well, you know. And especially some peace of mind. I have never felt more connected to true inner peace than by doing all this for you. Am I throwing away that peace?”
Who can say? Maybe I do not know myself. Come February, we might have this conversation again.
“It will not be in such a nice place, though.”
She does not reply, so I do neither. My fingers play with the laptop’s cover. I feel like I should do more. I am always supposed to do more – that’s the essence of the Muse, really. That bite that never lets go.
Save for these three last days.
“I have felt at peace. Complete annd whole,” I repeat. “I gave you your due and I was able to have a social life and enjoy my time. I would want to keep this equilibrium in the future.”
That is up to you.
“I don’t think I will accept this answer anymore,” I say, looking directly at her. “Not after these nine months. Almost ten in fact. I have showed you I can listen, but you have to understand I cannot dine on sole words. You say I am just a speck in the wind next to you, and I do understand this. Yet, I am still one speck, and a really devoted one. I would like to keep this balance. Can I count on you?”
Count on me for what? Why don’t you spell it out?
“Count on me to never abandon you. That I will try to set aside time and energy for your call. No matter what. I have shown as much. And that maybe I could do that and feel a lot better if you stopped gnawing at my feet every two seconds.”
Ha! That is a precious expression. Of course, I cannot make promises.
“I won’t be asking for one. Just a chance to make this work.”
As I said, we will talk about it in February. For the time being, you are still completing the challenge. Do your work every day – and then… maybe.
I do not like her smile. She knows she holds all the cards.
Still, it’s better than it has been in a long, long while.
“I will finish my work, then.”
I open the laptop again and start to tap away at the keys. Letters, words, phrases and paragraphs – the blood that rushes through the veins of the Muse.
Another tassel to the mosaic I have been building for almost one year.
I wonder what shape it will hold when it’s finished.
I very much want to take a look.
And as I glance at the Muse and I spot a satisfied grin curve her lips – I know that she has the same desire as well.
Author’s Notes: I have been on vacation for a bit. I did stumble upon some creative trouble, reasons why I have started to publish Cage of Glass, but overall I have reached a better work-life balance.
This comes after almost ten months of writing every day. I have felt my relationship with the Muse change and transform during this period.
I have stopped feeling that dull ache that comes from escaping her needs and much more fulfillment by attentind to them.
I hope, when I reach the end of this challenge and write every day for one year, to have a clearer outlook of my relationship with creativity and writing.
If you will have followed me until there, even just for a brief part of the journey, I will be grateful.
Thanks for reading.