Fade In: It’s the library. Same old furnishings, same old computer desk and chair. Only the chair has been modified to remove the arm rests. WRITER is sitting in chair, and he is not writing. Enter the MUSE, doing a passable imitation of Pallas Athena. She even has the spear, shield, and helmet. The spear is pointed with alarming accuracy at the middle of Writer’s back.
MUSE: Mind telling me what you’re doing?
(A twang reverberates through the library. If one was feeling generous, one might call it a C major chord. But only if.)
MUSE: What do you mean, practicing? That’s a guitar!
WRITER: Well spotted.
MUSE: We’ll talk about your use of idiom later, but it’s obvious you’ve been watching too much Harry Potter lately.
WRITER: You’re one to talk. Who got me started using the term “barking mad” for people who are, well, barking mad?
MUSE: It’s a perfectly good term, and don’t change the subject. Why are you practicing guitar? And if you say “To learn the guitar,” I’ll spear you. Metaphorically, of course, but I’ll make it hurt somehow.
WRITER: I never doubt you. If you’re asking, I’ll tell you—I’m practicing guitar because I want to.
MUSE: You want to….? That’s it?
MUSE: I get it. This is one of your serial obsessions, isn’t it? You go off on this for a bit, waste some time and money, and then get bored and drop it.
WRITER: Most likely. But even if that happens, I’ll know a little more about music than I did before. It’ll help the writing.
MUSE: Speaking of which, you need to be writing.
WRITER: So? I always do my best work when I should be doing something else. Maybe that’ll extend to guitar.
MUSE: This doesn’t get the stories written, or that book project you’re supposed to be working on.
WRITER: True. What’s your point?
WRITER(sighs): My collection’s not due until next year. Otherwise, am I under contract? Is anyone waiting for a story from me?
MUSE: Let’s not go down that road. You won’t like the scenery.
WRITER: My point is that this is my free time and, limited as it is, my free time belongs to me. Is that not correct?
MUSE: Until your wife decides what color to paint the bathroom.
WRITER: The point still stands, and if I want to learn to play guitar, I’ll damn well do it. I’ve always wanted to.
MUSE: Then why didn’t you? And why now?
WRITER: Because I was too busy learning to write. Plus I’d convinced myself that I couldn’t. That I had no musical talent.
MUSE: Well, frankly, you don’t have a lot. It’s my job to know these things. So to repeat–why now?
WRITER (smiles): Two reasons. One, I’ve decided that my talent or lack of it is no longer a valid excuse, if it ever was. I’m not getting any younger.
MUSE: Self-evident. But what about reason Two?
WRITER: That’s the biggie–I’m in a rut. So are you.
MUSE: What in the hell are you talking about?
WRITER: Oh, don’t act so innocent. You’re the Imaginary Personification of the Ideal of Inspiration, remember? Do you think I’d be doing this if you weren’t in it–pardon the cliche–up to your pretty little neck?
MUSE(trading the Athena outfit for a lawyer suit): I’ll take the Fifth.
WRITER: Take the whole distillery for all I care. Look, this is not the first time I’ve felt a little burned out. I doubt it will be the last. I’m not quitting writing. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. But I am going to shift my focus for a little while. I am going to learn to play this guitar. I may never be Jimmy Page, but then that was never the point.
MUSE: So what am I supposed to do in the meantime?
WRITER: If you think you’re getting out of this, think again. I said we were both in a rut. You, as my inspirational conduit, will assist me. We will refresh our perspectives and broaden our horizons. We will refill the well. When we get back to the books and stories, we will both be the better for it.
MUSE(sighs): Fine, but I want a rocker chick outfit. I was thinking maybe early Stevie Nicks.
WRITER: Agreed. Just no Courtney Love, ‘kay? She scares me.
WRITER: I knew you’d see things my way.
Muse: Shut up and practice. If you think that was even close to a proper C major chord, you think again.
Richard, this is just PERFECT! Such a mirror you hold up to us here!
Well, better a metaphorical one than a real one.