Muse and Writer Dialogues #15 In Which I am Desultory

Scene: Writer at his desk, staring at the screen. In other words, Monday.

Writer: Crap

Muse (reluctantly putting in an appearance): You again?

Writer: You’re my muse, so who else? And before you ask, yes, I’m having trouble.

Muse: I wasn’t going to ask. Laddie, you are trouble.

Writer: So you’re Scottish now?

Muse: Just an expression, a whim, you know—creative license. You should try it sometime.

Writer: Very funny. I need some inspiration.

Muse: You need a lot more than that. Besides, inspiration is overrated. Yes, you’ve managed the “butt in chair, blank screen” part of the work ethic, but so far you’ve left out the “putting one word after another” part.

Writer: This, I know. But what words?

Muse: If I knew that, I’d be the writer. Your problem is you’re desultory.

Writer: Maybe right now…

Muse: Luke warm? Half-hearted? You’re failing to understand the nuances of the word and all the synonyms in the world don’t do it justice. The full meaning is more along the lines of “without a purpose, a plan, or enthusiasm.”

Writer: Ouch…but accurate.

Muse: The truth often hurts. Why do you think so many people—not to mention politicians—try to hide it?

Writer: It’s not always the truth.

Muse: No, but it always is at the start. You begin weak and finish strong. You generate a purpose, a plan, and then enthusiasm, but not until the first several words are written. Most writers I know start off strong, inspired, and enthusiastic then get worn down. They’re desultory toward the end, not the beginning. You’re opposite. It’s a little weird, to tell the truth again.

Writer: Just how many other writers do you know?

Muse: Neither here nor there. And a lady never inspires and tells.

Writer: So you’re saying?

Muse (sighs): Put some words down, idiot. Doesn’t matter what they are, since you’ll change them once you figure out what you’re doing. The magic won’t happen until then. Inspiration, for what it’s worth, is a lot more important during the process than at the start.

Writer: I wouldn’t mind a little inspiration at the start.

Muse (sighs again, a little disgusted): Listen, twerp. You almost always know what you want to do from the beginning, in a general way, but not how. You hesitate because of uncertainty and fear that this time you won’t be able to pull it off, doesn’t matter how bloody many times you’ve been in the same place feeling the same thing. Once you get going, a fuller and more focused purpose, plan, and enthusiasm all fall into line. I would have thought at the very least you’d have picked up a clue about that by now.

Writer: You said it yourself—I’m a little slow out of the blocks.

Muse: Slow? By the starting gun you haven’t even gotten your shoelaces tied. Words. Now.

Writer: Okay. “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Muse: Don’t make me hurt you.

Writer: You said it didn’t matter what they were.

Muse: Well, I lied. Call it creative license.


Muse and Writer Dialogues #12

New Desk

New Desk


A room that passes for an office. There are bookshelves on two walls, a motley assortment of carvings, signed storyboards, and five guitars, but a lot of it isn’t on the walls yet. Except for the five guitars of various makes and models. The desk faces a blank wall. To the left is a window, and beyond that is a brown radiator cover with a printer perched on top. The floor holds paint, tools, and painting supplies, and an unopened window unit A/C awaiting installation. Rather like the artwork. WRITER is sitting at the desk staring at an almost blank screen. MUSE enters. From somewhere. She’s in Greek Goddess mode.


Muse: So these are the new digs. It’s a mess.

Writer: Don’t pretend to be surprised. This isn’t your first visit.

Muse: You mean while you were writing that last book? I had nothing to do with that.

Writer: So who was that, then? Your evil twin?

Muse: Nonsense. I AM my evil twin. I said I had nothing to do with the last book. I didn’t say I wasn’t here.

Writer: Is that an editorial comment? I thought the book turned out rather well.

Muse: You would, but that’s not what I meant. I meant you didn’t need me. Unusually for you, you had it pretty much worked out before you even started and you weren’t waiting for inspiration. You were going blue blazes most of the time. It was almost…impressive.

Writer: It’s not as if I had much choice. The deadline was fast approaching and I got a late start because of the move. So much got blown up last year. I was damned if I was going to let what passes for my writing career do the same.

Muse: And?

Writer: And the series had been heading for this ever since it began, so it wasn’t as if I could get lost now. I did know where I was going, but that’s only because your job was done before I even started. That really was impressive. Not to mention efficient.

Muse: I’ll take that as a compliment. So what now?

Writer (blinking): What…? I should be asking you that. Isn’t that your job?

Muse: I’m only a convenient personification of the idea of inspiration, remember? I’m just in your head…along with whatever debris and found objects you turn into stories. So let me hand you a little bit of insight–you don’t get inspired.

Writer: I don’t…?

Muse (shaking her head): Never did. What you do is recognize stories when you see them, and then you follow them until they’ve given up their secrets. So why am I even here?

Writer: Well…I talk to myself.

Muse: I’ve noticed that.

Writer: Then you should understand I feel a little more anchored when I’m talking to someone else instead. That’s you.

Muse: Can’t imagine why. I’m just another voice in your head.

Writer: Say rather a convenient personification of the idea of inspiration, remember? Not quite the same thing. Besides, I don’t buy your argument. Recognizing a story IS inspiration, so far as I’m concerned. You’re just pissed because there wasn’t as much left for you to do on the last project and you got bored. Fine. It’s time for a new project.

Muse: Have it your way. I’ll try to help you out with the winkling out its secrets part. No promises on the inspiration part. We’ll see if you’re right.

Writer: All I ask.

MUSE: You do know I’m going to keep bugging you about the state of this office, right?

Writer: Wouldn’t expect anything less.








Scenes From a Marriage #6

Husband wanders through the living room on his way out to the garage. Wife, watching tv.

SHE:  Damn!
HE:  What?
SHE:  I just wanted to relax for a bit, but everything is in commercial!
HE:  I think they time it that way on purpose.
SHE:  Thank god for the shopping channels.
HE (blinking):  The shopping channels?
SHE:  Yes. They’re almost never in commercial.
HE:  Ummm…they’re shopping channels.
SHE:  What’s your point?
HE:  Well, I mean, aren’t they always trying to sell you something? So aren’t they, by definition, always “in commercial”?
SHE (frostily):  It’s not the same thing at all.
HE:  It isn’t?
SHE:  No! They’re making things available that might interest me. There are things there that I usually don’t see elsewhere. Besides—it’s shopping!
HE (and you just knew he was going to, didn’t you?):  But it’s buying things you found out about on tv! How is that not a commercial?
SHE:  You’re such a … man! Aand you don’t understand anything!
HE: …..

(And everything goes downhill from there.)

MUSE (Still dressed like a rocker chick. Interrupting): Liar.
HE: Wait a minute. How did you get in here?
MUSE: I’m always here, you twit.
HE: Oh, right. I forgot.
MUSE: “You forgot”? And I suppose you also forgot just how long you’ve been married?
HE: No, I haven’t.
MUSE:  How long, then?
HE (sighs): Thirty-five years.
MUSE: Right, then. So tell them what really happened.
HE: Okay, fine. We’ll pick it up from about here….

SHE: Thank god for the shopping channels.
HE (blinking): The shopping channels?
SHE: Yes. They’re almost never in commercial.
HE: Right… I’m going out into the garage now. I’ve got to sand something.
SHE: Okay. Love you.
HE: Love you too.  (exeunts)

You want to know how to stay married for thirty-five years? Sure, open communication is crucial, but sometimes what’s even more crucial is knowing when to STFU.

Muse and Writer Dialogues #6 – “Anger Management”


 A room that passes for an office. There are bookshelves on one wall, a motley assortment of carvings, signed storyboards, and framed magazine covers on the free wall space. On the far wall is a medieval-style heraldic wall display of a cockatrice and a banner in bad Latin “Pullus non Est.”  Horizontal files sit beneath the window , and on top of those a free-standing rack holding Japanese swords, and a pile of unsorted papers, old mail, receipts. The computer desk is on the wall nearest the door, facing away from the window. Beside that is a printer on a stand. It’s a bit dusty.

Enter the Muse. Her appearance tends to change every now and then, but mostly she appears as a Greek goddess type in a flowing chiton. She is glaring at Writer, who  is sitting at his desk, but he’s not looking at the screen. He is also glaring, though at nothing in particular.

MUSE (tapping foot): Why am I here?

WRITER: You’re my muse.

MUSE: This I know. I mean why am I here now? You’ve got a project to write and you’re already well into it. I will appear at various times to give you little shoves in the right direction, but that’s it. Nothing of the sort is currently indicated.

WRITER: The Ideal of Inspiration is not confined to writerly projects. What if I need help with something else?

MUSE: Such as?

WRITER: Well…why am I so damn angry?

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