Should I wait on my muse, or tell him to get lost?
| My writing space is a large concrete-block building crammed with dry-cleaning equipment that requires a separate story to explain. I am, unfortunately, a card-carrying member of PA (packrats anonymous). Long ago I became oblivious to the clutter and the senseless, unorganized jumble of equipment, tools, spools of wire, old books and yellowing stacks of Golfer's and Writer's Digest magazines.
As I look around, the clutter is comforting in some weird way. If I had to look at sterile walls and neatly organized spaces, it wouldn't feel right.
It's a hundred-and-one degrees outside. My three-and-a-half-ton air conditioner is thirty or forty years old, but is still a valiant work horse; loud, lumbering, and reliable, it's a great comfort on days like this.
I'm in front of my desktop screen sitting on an old blue Ford minivan car seat. My old dog Sheba, a mix Pit Bull and what I call "travelling salesman," is curled up next to me. Sometimes she snores. Surrounding me are desks and assorted tables I have built from old two-by-fours. They have three-quarter-inch plywood tops. The tables are piled precariously high with stacks of hard and soft-covered novels and reference books on subjects that I'll probably never get around to investigating. Some of the "worthless" ones are Cobol and Fortran programming, and a 4-inch thick tome called "Editors and Publishers, 1966." I collect books from all sources as long as they are cheap or free. I've put myself in the poor house from buying $3.00 books from the sale cart at our branch library. My theory is that all books have something of value or they wouldn't have been published in the first place. Although I wouldn't recommend it, I listen to classical music or have the DVD playing classic movies that I've seen a hundred times. It's the background chatter that helps me relax while I write.
Like Stephen King's muse described in his book, On Writing, mine is a sullen, unshaven, beer swilling, cigar smoking slug. He's camped out in the basement on an a worn-out leather sofa watching TV. He sits around in his underwear and wears strapped undershirts. His favorite past-time is scratching himself. I keep him in snacks and cold beer but it doesn't help. He can't be bothered with my pathetic requests. I've tried to keep him happy. It's been an on-and-off relationship. Only rarely has he thrown me a bone; he's mostly useless. Recently, I discovered that if I just go ahead and write I don't need him. So I fired him. He's sulking somewhere now, and eventually he'll try to weasel his way back in. But I won't let him come back, because I've found a new muse. All I have to do is start writing and she shows up.