“Well, that’s it,” I said. “I’m done. Or at least as done as I’m going to be.”

My muse, seated in the tattered desk chair behind me, cracked open a fresh beer, not even bothering to mop up the droplets that splattered on their beat-up t-shirt. “Well, was it everything you thought it would be?”

“Sort of,” I said. “I mean, it’s always a thousand times better in my head.”

“It always is,” said my muse in between slugs of Pabst. “But was it worth it?”

“It was a real slog sometimes, especially with the deadlines,” I said. That wasn’t the half of it. Late nights in coffee shops on the weekends, struggling to craft a sentence or two between shifts at work…Sometimes the words would flow out so fast I was afraid I’d type my fingers into raw and bloody nubs. More often I’d sit there sweating bullets at the sight of a blank page, that most pale and personal of horrors. For every piece of prose that soared, there were two more that sank in the morass.

“That’s not what I asked.” My muse tore open a bag of greasy potato chip and began to eat. “Was it worth it?”

I looked at the words on my screen, the pages upon pages that, bad as they were, hadn’t been there before. I glanced at my story notes, breathing some tiny spark of life into people that would never exist, no matter how cardboard or inconsistent they might be.

“Yes,” I said. “It was worth it.”