The personification of my creative muse hasn’t budged from my couch in 30 days. His give-up-on-life pants are earning their name ten times over, while his stained t-shirt is not officially holier than the Vatican thanks to ash burns. If assembled into a pyramid, the mountain of been cans nearby would have contained so much aluminum it would take five men to lift it, and 22 immigrant laborers would likely have died during its construction.

“Well,” he says. “I kept my part of the bargain. How did your attempt to write a fantasy novel AND serve as a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month go?”

“Bleargh,” I reply.

“As I thought,” my muse cackles. “You stretched yourself too thin.”

“Buh. Sneh.”

“Look at that,” my muse says. “You can’t even muster the creative juices to respond in plain English.”

“Brain hurts,” I say. “Stop with talky-talky.”

“Only once I’m through gloating,” my muse snaps. Rousing himself, he peels off the couch leaving a shadow not unlike the kind you’d find after an atomic blast. Stumbling over to my computer, he clears away the detritus of frenzied creation and moderation (the internet forum kind, not the doing-less-of-things kind).

“No read-y,” I croak in what sounds about halfway between a hiccup and a sneeze. “No edited.”

Ignoring me, my muse peruses the work. “Huh,” he says. “I’ll give you this: you made it further than I thought you would.”

I don’t respond, and looking over he sees why: I’m passed out in a puddle of my own drool.

“It’s a good thing you’re not conscious to hear this,” my muse adds. “But even with all the stuff that went wrong, I’ve read worse. By you.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

“I’ve got you now.” The personification of my creative muse, wearing give-up-on-life pants and what might once have been a t-shirt, is lounging on my couch while ignoring the cigar ash and drops of cheap beer accumulating on what passed for his clothing.

“I wasn’t under the impression that ‘getting’ me was your goal,” I say. “Aren’t you, as ever, an appropriation of a concept used by Stephen King (without permission) to give form to my creative angst during National Novel Writing Month?”

“No.” My muse takes a deep drag and a deep sip before continuing. “I’m also a personification of your fear of creative failure and occasional reminder that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. And I’ve got you this year.”

“How’s that?” I say defensively. “This year I’m writing a fantasy novel, going for something that’s not at least quasi-realistic for the first time. That’s practically my normal mode, my comfort zone.”

“Yes, but you’re also signed up as a municipal liaison. Officially this time, with real responsibilities and stuff, and not the half-assed kind of quasi-ML you were before. You think there’s enough time in the day for a full-time job, finishing what promises to be another 100,000-word novel, and supervising a bunch of other writers and events? Especially considering you’ll be arriving back from a trip to France one day before November starts?” My muse laughs a bitter laugh.

“We’ll see,” I say in return. “Being an ML could energize me.”

“Or it could leave you a dried-out husk, as dead on the inside as on the outside, so dessicated that Egyptian mummies will look at you askance and say ‘what the Helios happened to that guy?'”

“We shall see, my friend,” I say. “We shall see.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!