“So, it’s that time of year again,” says my muse through a fog of cigar smoke and with cheap Pabst heavy on his breath. “What are you going to fail to finish this year?”

I don’t like the tone of my muse’s voice, or the various odors issuing from his maw, and I could do without the stained wifebeater and torn sweatpants he’s sporting. “You’ve got a lot of nerve talking like that,” I riposte. “I’m beginning to regret ripping you off as a concept from Stephen King.”

“The process of ripping off, be it from On Writing or your own blog posts from last year, is irreversible,” my muse replies, punctuating the remarks with a throaty belch. “Ripping off is like heat transfer, it only goes one way until the eventual, and inevitable, Ripoff Death of the Universe. Now answer the question.”

I sigh. “A western,” I say. “I’m going to try writing a western. A heady tale of humor and betrayal, gunslinger grrls and black-hatted villainesses.”

“A western?” chortles my muse, frabjously. “Well callooh-callay, aren’t we fancy this time around. Who the hell writes westerns anymore? The genre’s been dead as a doornail since the Sputnik launch.”

“It’s a genre I’ve never tried before,” I reply, more than a little defensiveness in my voice. “Would you rather I wrote a Harlequin romance?”

“At least then you’d have an excuse for female characters all over the place,” my muse snorts. “They didn’t have female cowboys there, hoss. I mean, that’s encoded right there in the name cow-BOY.”

“I’ll think up an explanation,” I shoot back. “And the western isn’t all about historical accuracy. Sergio Leone had a gun from 1889 in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and that was set in 1862.”

“And when you have the track record with westerns that he has, maybe you’ll get away with it. Maybe. But if you want to cough up an unfinished western when the genre is deader than Louis L’Amour, don’t let me stop you.”

“I’m going to finish this year, too,” I say. “NaNoFiMo, National Novel Finishing Month. Set in stone.”

“Just like the last 5 novels?” My muse laughs. “Or the one you actually did finish…six months later? Or the only one you finished by November 30, by undoing all your contractions at 11:50pm, but refuse to speak of?”

I roll my eyes. “I don’t refuse to speak of it, I just openly admit that it was dog crap. That’s what happens when you try to expand a 1000-word story by 50 times. Now are you with me or not?”

“Fine, fine.” My muse opens a fresh can of rotgut and clips the head off a fresh cigar. “We’ll see who was right in 30 days on the dot. Happy National Novel Writing Month, my rootin’, tootin’ friend. Good luck–you’ll need it.”

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