Things to do while waiting for The Muse

The bitch is always late

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I show up in my writing room at approximately 10 A.M. every morning without fail. Sometimes my Muse sees fit to join me there and sometimes she doesn’t, but she always knows where I’ll be. She doesn’t need to go hunting in the taverns or on the beach or drag the boulevard looking for me. — Tom Robbins

I have to be up front here. If the Muse exists, she’s mostly ignored me. And the feeling is mutual.

I have had that experience — the one you have had — where I sat down at 10 a.m. and nothing happened. Nada. The Force was not with me that day. Just about nothing is worse than staring at a blank screen and having it stare back at you like the Eternal Abyss sucking up your soul. Waiting. You’re all dressed up and ready for the Muse cha-cha and nobody shows up. The toes of your dancing shoes start to gather dust. You sigh, file your nails and get up to re-heat your coffee. Aaaand … nothing.

The bitch isn’t going to show.

You showed up and she didn’t. Which one of us is behaving correctly in this situation? What are you supposed to do?

Step 1: You showed up. She did not.

Step 2: Just type something.

Write anything. Anything at all. Write a letter to the Muse telling her she’s a heartless strumpet that can’t keep her commitments.

Complain about how bitter you are that you will die alone, wordless and uninspired.

After a couple of paragraphs, more often than not, you’ll get interested in what you are writing and you’ll forget you were waiting for the Magic Word Fairy to bless you with inspiration.

Your toe starts tapping and after a while you are dancing and, if the Muse ever does show up, you can ignore her and she can move on to the poet who’s re-heating his coffee a couple doors down.

I’ve had the Muse visit me before. She filled me with the fire of holy creation. Words start squirting out my ears and I ran for a notebook and started scribbling as fast as my hand could move. It’s almost always brilliant stuff. I’ve kicked off entire novels this way.

The Muse visits and I can’t stop thinking about that story, fleshing out those three-dimensional, living characters, and exploring that rich setting. The Muse and I are whirling across the dance floor and I’m Cinderella at the ball — wasp waisted gown, glass slippers, handsome prince and those little blue birds fluttering around my head.

It’s happened maybe three times … in twenty years.

Most days it’s me and a couple of cats.

I go to my office and take a seat. I’m in pajamas and an oversized, coffee-stained teeshirt. My desk is covered with sticky notes, three ring binders of research, college ruled notebooks filled with pages of messy scribbling (paper notebooks don’t run out of batteries at the coffee shop), and a computer that has an endless supply of blank white pages. It’s 10:23 a.m. and if the Muse drops by, I probably won’t get up to answer the doorbell.

Yeah, let’s get serious. The Muse doesn’t exist.

But 10 a.m. is as real as it gets. It rolls by every morning like clockwork (exactly like clockwork!). 10 a.m. is there for you and you have to be there for it.

It’s not the Muse that must show up. It’s you.


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