Don't Rely On The Muse, But Don't Turn Her Away Either

There are a number of forces at work which guide an author's keystrokes. Amateurs rely on one called the Muse, waiting for her to come and inspire them with a perfectly-formed vision of a story that they can simply type out as she dictates.

Professionals rely on less fickle forces, like wanting to eat or not wanting to work their shitty-ass job anymore. 

'I am so taking a dump on his desk when the Muse finally visits.'

'I am so taking a dump on his desk when the Muse finally visits.'

I've got some bad news for you, Stock Photo Lady. The Muse may never come. And even if she does, if you haven't been honing your craft by typing out as many shitty words as you can every day, then you won't be in a position to take advantage of her visit when it comes. You won't be taking a dump on anyone's desk until you understand this.

But if she sees you working hard, she may be more inclined to drop by and leave you a gift. It might not be a fully-written bestseller. It might be something as small as a single line of dialogue, a plot twist, or a worthy alternative to that Ring of Feather Falling gambit you were saving to use in Critical Failures II, but couldn't resist using in ZOMBIE ATTACK!!!.

Sometimes her gifts are not understood or appreciated. Often, they require more work than the expected reward is worth, like Mr. Miyagi making you wax his goddamn car, or your uncle re-gifting you one of those home brewing kits.

"A case of beer would have been so much cheaper."

"A case of beer would have been so much cheaper."

But just as those car-waxing skills may save your life some day should someone decide to punch out your heart while you're making circular patterns with your hand, or the chemistry skills you pick up with the brewing kit may some day lead to a thriving meth empire, the Muse's gifts may be the first steps you take down the path of a successful writing career, should you choose to accept them.

Often times, when the Muse has been drinking heavily, her gifts may seem just plain inappropriate, like when your cat leaves a half-eaten squirrel on the front porch, or when Grandma gives you her old crotchless panties for Christmas.

"Your grandpa picked these up in France after the war. Now I'm passing them on to you."

"Your grandpa picked these up in France after the war. Now I'm passing them on to you."

You may find these things fascinating, but woe be unto you if anyone ever finds out you have them. When I told my brother I was thinking about writing a story called "Naga Please", he said, "Bob, don't write that.". I faced similar doubts when writing "The Minotard". Surely I would only be inviting a swarm of SJWs to rain down their fiery wrath upon me. Why would the Muse plant such ideas in my head?

My fears proved unfounded. As I discussed last week, the SJW threat is largely an imaginary one for people who aren't actually assholes.

One fateful day last August, as I was typing out a hastily-researched blog post about the Hugo Awards controversy, the Muse paid me a visit. She was in the worst shape I'd ever seen her, sucking Malibu rum straight out of the bottle through a crazy straw, one tit hanging out of her sequined party toga. She was barely able to walk, let alone bestow her gift upon me. 

As she staggered toward the bathroom to throw up, I considered her gift. It was a silly thing, and considerably more offensive than anything I'd ever written before. I couldn't waste my time following through with such an absurdity, not when I had so many less potentially-career-ending stories left in me to write.

I tacked the idea on as a joke at the end of the blog post and left it at that.

When the Muse sobered up some time that winter, she asked me why her gift was still in the box. I explained that, while I thought the idea was funny, actually writing it out made me kind of uncomfortable. She grabbed her crotch and told me to grow a pair.

Some time later, I mentioned the idea while chatting with the Authors & Dragons gang. Drew Hayes remembered it from the aforementioned blog post, and encouraged me to follow through with it. (In his defense, he knows nothing of the horribleness contained within, aside from that which was mentioned on that blog post.)

I started writing.

I giggled and cringed as the Muse sat atop my shoulder, swigging back Everclear and pitching me line after wonderful, terribl line. A few days and 16,505 words later, I wrote "The End."

Soon, after my editor sends me her notes, which will hopefully not include "DON'T PUBLISH THIS!!!", I shall share with you the gift which the Muse bestowed upon me a long time ago, in a country far, far away.

Please have a look at the other gifts the Muse has bestowed upon me.

You can be among the first to hear of this upcoming release by liking my Facebook page.