Saturday, April 17, 2021

My Muse

    My muse is the tiny persistent voice in my head that tells me to write at least 750 words.  She is sometimes gentle , urging me forward when I’m stuck in a passage.  She is sometimes  insistent, pushing me into the chair in front of my desktop computer when I try to excuse myself.  I have tried to outwit her by saying that I usually write on my little Mac laptop.  Her response is generally a disdainful query about whether certain letters exist only on one keyboard.  She can be persistent, not allowing me to forget that she sits inside my left brain trying to build structure into my unstructured life.  I fight her, oh yes! I fight her, but she is strong and willful, and able to drag me back to the closest keyboard and place my fingers in the proper position.  When all else fails, she becomes my mother (and probably everyone else’s) and uses guilt.  Her goal is to get my ass into the seat and my hands and eyes into position.  Once she has accomplished that, she leaves, smug and satisfied, knocking on the lobe of my right brain on the way by.

    As the door opens and the chaos that is inside spills and tumbles out, I swear I see her smiling. “Okay, champ,” she says, “I got you here.  Now do something.”  She never tells me what, never so much as suggests a topic; she just goes into her room and knits or something until she sees me slacking off.  If she catches the lapse early enough she simply pokes her head out and hollers, “Write!”  But if I’m able to escape into a game of online Scrabble or an email check and recheck, or if I actually succeed in leaving the room, she comes storming out to drag me back to work.  “Work on what?”  I ask.  No answer.

So, I sit here, weary from all my kicking and screaming but in the seat with hands on the keys pushing words onto the screen.  I want so badly to reach behind me and grab the TV remote, do some channel surfing, and kick back when I see something of marginal interest.  As I flag in my resolve, she pokes her head out and, glaring, growls, “Seven-fifty.”  

“I need to practice my music,” I argue.

“You’ve been singing all day,” she responds.

“But I haven’t played the bass yet.”

“You haven’t played the bass for six months.”

“But I moved it into my office.”


“I’ll just tune it up.”


    I know that my pleas are going nowhere.  I know I will not have peace until I have produced seven hundred fifty words in some coherent form.  That’s the other problem.  She won’t allow me to write just anything, refuses to consider my version of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” for as many pages as it takes.  She reads over my shoulder from time to time just to make sure I’m proceeding with some relatively consistent theme.  Having no chance of escape, I attempt to organize the amoebic bubble, reaching into the mass to extract a word, a sentence, a paragraph, but it’s so hard.

A new ploy jumps into my head!  Chores!

“I have to clean up the kitchen.”

No answer.

“Really … I got a bunch done after dinner but there’s still more.”


“Okay.  If I write a little more can I go finish up the kitchen?”

“How much more?”

“Maybe a hundred words?”

“How much?”

“Okay, a hundred and fifty.”


So I continue.  

    I’m not sure I like my muse very much, although sometimes she stays with me and coaxes ideas from my right brain, from the mush, into a string of words that make sense.  That’s when I begin to enjoy the task of writing again.  So I guess she’s really helpful — sometimes.  I live for those times when the words are coming in a torrent, when she feeds me as if I were a hungry bear, shoveling thoughts at me faster than I can swallow them.   

    So I continue, hoping that the stream will grow into a flash flood and every word will be a gem to polish to an inspirational luster, hoping that whatever comes out of this contest with my lovely, nagging muse will be magic.  

But if not, it will at least be seven hundred and fifty good words.  


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