The Death of a Muse? (An Odd Cautionary Tale)

At first I was in denial that anything was wrong, even though it was the worst case of writer’s block I’d ever experienced. But of course! “My muse had probably just embarked on a summer camping trip,” I told myself. Everyone needs a little time off after many hard years of service. Besides what kind of employer was I not offering my muse paid vacation time at a luxury resort as a job perk? Shame on me. No wonder no notice was given before this mysterious departure.

But now after 4 months of not being able to write like I used to, it occurred to me that perhaps my muse had permanently run away. I pictured a little red checkered knapsack on a stick slung over the shoulder of my muse, filled with the bare necessities to assist with effective musing — chocolate, (for bribing a future author) a megaphone (for shouting into a stubborn writer’s ear) and even a typewriter, because sometimes good muses have to write the entire darn thing themselves.

I put an ad up on Craig’s List in the Lost and Found section that looked like this:

Missing Muse! Reward for any info leading to the safe return — no questions asked. (Except for Who?What?Why?Where?How?When?) Answers to “Little Voice” or “Sweet Inspiration.” Last seen wearing a red negligee, eating bon-bons, and watching The Young & the Restless soap opera. Friendly, bit of a chatterbox in fact, communicates story ideas in confusing bursts or fragments. i.e. “You’re having high tea with the King of Kidneys/Livers when the Queen of Hearts crashes the party?” or “Different types of Breadless sandwiches served open-faced by The Muffin Man?”  Please return this cherished Muse as soon as possible — sentimental value only.

Next thing I know a balding man knocks on the door, gives me an overzealous bear hug while exclaiming, “Here I am. At last we’re reunited! I’m your long lost Muse. You can call me ‘Bruce the Muse.'” Which is odd because before I used to call my muse, “Ida the Idea.”

He then went on to tell me how his ex-wife made him a sex slave and how it would turn the tables on all the female empowerment Lifetime movie of the week stories, if only I’d accept his assistance in writing the script. “True story!” he said again as if that would tempt me enough to hold out my hand and say, “Really? Well put ‘er there, partner! Join me in my writing studio where my stash of Doritos is.”

No sooner did I shut the door on the impostor Bruce (besides I pictured the physical form of my muse as kind of a femme fatale Marilyn Monroe type, but also flat-chested, a brunette, and with reading glasses) when there was an official sounding pounding and I opened it back up to see two police officers tapping their feet with a clipboard.

Officer #1: We suspect foul play. We see this kind of thing all the time.

Me: Really?! Like Stephen King is holding my muse hostage until she reveals some bizarre horror story romantic comedy plot-line and he writes it for her, ala the movie Misery?

Officer #2: I doubt your muse is so talented that someone as famous as Mr. King would risk his reputation. But maybe Morton Solomon has her squirreled away in his file cabinet.

Me: “Who?”

Officer #2: Exactly!

Me: Not funny. And I am not a-mused.

Officer #1: We know. That’s why we’re trying to locate the one you’re missing.

After these two clowns left, I honestly considered suicide. It was entirely plausible.  My muse was probably so discouraged by my recent waning blog statistics that she had taken her own life, thinking the writing world would be much better off without her. Or maybe killing herself was a clever strategy for my stuff to become classic literature! Everyone knows ya gotta kick the bucket before any public librarian will stock your books or students in 9th grade English Lit will be assigned a 1200 word essay analyzing your theme. And I’d always dreamed of being analyzed! Thank you Miss Muse for taking a (literal?) bullet for my sake.

Just then my cellphone lit up with notifications from Facebook Friends telling me to turn on the local news. Apparently I was the subject of a controversial public service Announcement:

As my Huffington Post headshot flashed on the screen, a really homely Marilyn Monroe type female read in a halting little voice from a teleprompter.

Have you seen this violent Wanna-Be Author? She’s wanted for 1 count of premeditated attempted museslaughter, 3 counts of abuse, and 9 counts of aggravated assault.  She stands 5′ 4″, (or 5′ 9″ if you count her kooky hairstyle,) and calls herself ‘Little Miss Menopause’ (but that was a real branding mistake!) and is extremely insecure. She tried to do me in several times right on her bed, (where all she ever does is sleep nowadays btw!) as she uttered these toxic words — “That’s the stupidest idea for a novel I’ve ever heard. Nobody will ever want to read that drivel!” I ran for my life. All local Muses beware! She’s armed and dangerous with a fully-loaded MR (Manuscript Rifle) to shoot down any creativity you might offer up. Please alert the authorities so she can go back on her medication.

The authorities? Oh no, not those two clowns again.

And of course there followed an immediate pounding on my door — this time the officers were accompanied by a medical physician who shoved a tablespoon of putrid medicine down my throat. One glance at the label on the bottle told me everything I needed to know… “Mucin-ex!”

READERS: Is your muse still offering invaluable guidance? Treat them well!

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Interview With a Real Live Mean Girl!

Welcome readers! Today I’m conducting an impromptu Q & A with someone I’ve known for many years and always had a lot of respect for. She promises to be open and honest with all my straightforward inquiries, so what more can we possibly ask for? Oh! You may have met her once before when I allowed her to guest post on this blog right HERE. But that was four years ago and it’ll be cool to see what’s she’s been up to recently.

As always I’ll shorten Little Miss Menopause (that’s me!) to LMM. And we’ll shorten her name to GM because she goes by Genie Meanie nowadays.

LMM — Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do this. I know your actual appearances in print are rare and you prefer to work behind the scenes when you converse, so I’m truly honored.

GM — No prob. I knew you’d never get anybody else to interview on this trivial little blog you do so it’s no skin off my teeth. Speaking of skin and teeth….yours look like they need some tightening and whitening. Oh! Would you look at that? I rhymed. I knew I missed my calling as a writer. I became an editor instead.

LMM — Oh!  An editor?  Is that what your official title is? I always thought of you as sort of an oddly negative Muse. But now you call yourself an Editor. Have you seen any of my recent writing on Huffington Post or Aish?  by the way?

GM — That’s not writing!

LMM — I know, I know.  And forgive me — this is about you, not me. Let’s talk about some of your latest accomplishments.

GM — Well as I just mentioned, I’m very active in the Author community. I’ve convinced hundreds that they’re hacks and quite a few others to throw in the towel completely. But my latest achievement has been to get you to delete everything you type for let’s see over a month now, right? And I’m dabbling a little in advertising and marketing. Remember that mantra I taught you that seemed to stick so nicely?

LMM — Oh yes.  Do you mean, “I suck!”

GM — That’s the one, Sweetpea! I’m looking into getting that on coffee mugs, tee-shirts, and bumper stickers for cars, which I like to call bummer stickers. LOL.

LMM —  Hmm. Wait, I know! Maybe “I suck!” could go on straws and vacuums too?

GM — Shut up. Remember what we agreed on? You’re no longer funny.

LMM — Right. So aside from the writing community, are there other areas where you’ve had great influence.

GM — Interpersonal Relationships. You might say that’s my specialty these days. Break-ups are gratifying to instigate, but I’m actually going back to school to major in “Settling.”

LMM — Settling? That sounds intriguing. Can you elaborate?

GM — Oh you know, Settling!  Here, lemme read you the first paragraph of the start-up guide for this particular discipline. “You’re not getting any younger. Look at those wrinkles and puffy bags under your eyes. But those bags are nothing compared to all the real heavy baggage you have in your life with your teenage kids, your finances, your co-dependent sister, not to mention your severe mid-life crisis. So what if there’s no real passion with this new guy? So what if he talks down to you and sometimes doesn’t show up after you’ve cooked an elaborate dinner? Do you really want to die all alone?

LMM — Oh! I didn’t realize there was a career path for that kind of a skill set.

GM — Oh Lordy, yes! You’d be surprised what niche jobs are out there these days.  Since you evicted me recently, I’ve been redoing my resume, but off the top of my head I’ve been directly responsible for the implementation of depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and even suicide once in a while.  But my proudest moments of glory have been in a large, growing industry which I’ve had so much experience in that now I’m being approached to mentor others.

LMM — What industry is that?

GM — The Onset of An Eating Disorder. But you should know that, Silly. Remember how we’d dialogue? Let’s show your readers how our talk would go — just for old times sake?

LMM — Okay. But first I’m a little hungry.

GM — Hungry? You’re not hungry. You ate a huge lunch five hours ago. A lettuce salad and a mozzarella cheese stick. You’re just bored. Go to the gym.

LMM — Really? Because my stomach is growling.

GM — Drink water then. You’re always mistaking thirst for hunger. Drink water and then weigh yourself.

LMM — Gosh, that seems kinda backwards. I’ll weigh myself first.

GM — Whatever. Different strokes for different folks. But all strokes lead to you being obese!  Ohhh! I like that and think it would do well on a placemat or as a screensaver!

LMM — Guess what? I lost a pound since yesterday!

GM — Time to celebrate!! I think you’re right, you ARE hungry. In fact, you’re starving you poor, disciplined little thing, You! Go eat a grilled cheese sandwich, frozen pizza, Oreos, Nutella, chips and guacamole, Rocky Road ice-cream, and then open that new bag of trail mix which you bought because I told you nuts are healthy but because there are M&M’s thrown in there and it’s the perfect balance of sweet and salty — I like to call it “Dieter’s Crack.”

LMM— Really? I have your permission?

GM — Girlfriend, you have my BLESSING. And bonus! Because you’ll have already blown it for today, you can take the rest of the night off as well and eat whatever you want.

LMM — Thank you so much!

GM — Tomorrow you’ll fast with just water and vitamin C, cuz ya gotta keep your energy level up so you can run up and down your flight of stairs two-hundred times, walk eleven miles, and do 5 hours on the elliptical. Deal?

LMM — Works for me.  But that will be the last time for that routine, I can promise you that!  So Genie Meanie, tell my readers who else has hired you as their coach in this particular eating disorder field?

GM — Your two daughters.

Readers: Please beware of Genie Meanie trying to seek employment in your mind or rent out a room in your head — she’s armed and dangerous. She also has a macho counterpart who lurks in male brains, so if any of my guy readers want to locate him for an interview, please post your link in the comments section.

Has Your Muse Taken a Snooze? (Or Worse, Blown a Fuse??)

photo-362Got writer’s block?  You might want to try what I did….

An Interview with My Muse

Me:  So….what gives?  You’re so quiet in there.  You gotta come up with something new to get me going.  I never have anything nice to post like all the other Bloggers do.

Maisy Musey:  You gotta be kidding me!  You’ve got a closet full of Inspiration.  And…. You just got Freshly Pressed. What more do you want from me?

Me:  That ratty old thing?  That’s been hanging in there since Valentine’s Day.  Besides, it was just a coincidence they picked that one.   You never give me anything new and exciting anymore.

Maisy Musey:  (sighs) Here we go.   And what’s up with my name?  We’ve gotta change it.  I can’t work like this.  It’s depressing.

Me:  Okay, okay – –  I can understand feeling a little out of sorts after WordPress featured us.  The letdown after the spike in stats.  And maybe the intense pressure to come up with something else as a follow-up.  But you can shake these Muse Blues. I know you can!  Here – – Lemme sing you a little song — “a Muse-ical” if you will.  “la-la-la – – The Muse will come out tomorrow….betcha bottom dollar that….”

Minnie Musey:  Shut up.  And stop with all these cutesie names.  I am NOT a-mused.

Me:  Yes, you most certainly ARE a muse.  And you’re my muse.  You’re just a bit mixed-up.  “Musion Confusion” they call it.   Here….try a better, stronger name.

Moses Muse:  Oh, so its Moses now, is it?  What am I- – a Jew’s Muse?   Listen you, I’ve paid my Muse Dues.  You got what you wanted.  I’m on strike now.  That’s right.  You heard me – –   I.  Refuse.  to.  Muse.

Me:  What?!  With my new followers?  What am I supposed to do?

Moses Muse:  Tell them you have some News.  Your Muse took his departure Cues after finally getting some Clues and feeling Used.   He was tired of Cruising for a Musing Bruising.

Me:  I don’t believe this!  All my readers will jump to the wrong Musion Conclusion now. Like I’ve given you a Musion Contusion or something.  Yeah, sure.  Besides,  you just can’t go into Musion Seclusion.  How am I going to keep up with the “I’m really a witty writer” Illusion?  Please!?

Sybil:  Has it ever occurred to you that you don’t even have a Muse? That you just talk to yourself??  You do have a track record you know.photo-363

Me:  You miserable Excuse for a Muse.  You just watch.  I’m gonna Peruse a famous writer’s Muse.  Someone with profound, Profuse Muse Views.   A Muse who won’t Accuse.  Hemingway’s Muse!  Now that’s a great Muse for me to Choose to Reuse!!

Ernie:  (Belches)  Hey man!  I am definitely not the Muse for you.  I’m a Male Muse.  Into minimalism.  Not all that girly chit-chat.  Any of these sound familiar?  1.  Farewell to Arms  2.  The Sun Also Rises   3.  The Old Man and the Sea. (And my strong personal favorite) . . .  4.   For Whom the Bell Tolls?

Me:  Don’t give me that Muse-o,  Macho B.S.  You’re sensitive deep down, I know it.   You could have easily made those titles into 1.  Farewell to Feminine Charms  2.  The Daughter Also Sets (the table)  3.   The Cold Man and His Tea.  (And a terrific wedding planner called…) 4.  “For the Groom Rochelle Controls”

Ernie:  Okay, Miss Smartie Pants Blogger….you don’t need a muse.  Just take all the classics and tweak ’em with your  own little womanly touch.  See how far it gets you.

Me:  You don’t have to ask me twice. Go back to the Booze, Hemingway Muse!

Little Miss Menopause’s Take on Literature Greats

1.  Crime and Punishment – – Grime and Tarnishment  (A Housekeeping Guide)

2.  Sense and Sensibility – – Blintz and Minceability  (A Cookbook)

3,  Wuthering Heights – –  Withering Nights  (A Sex Manual After Age 50)

4.  The Importance of Being Earnest – – The Importance of Being an Internist – –  (How To convince your kids to become a doctor)

5.  The Catcher in the Rye – – Scratch Her in the Eye  (What to do when you find the woman your husband cheated with)

6.  Red Badge of Courage – – Shred Bag to Discourage  (A Shopaholics Recovery Bible)

7.   Great Expectations – –   Weight Fluctuations   (It’s normal to put on a few pounds throughout the monthly cycle)

8.  War and Peace – – Drawer of Fleece  (Sweats ARE okay on weekends)

9.  Scarlett Letter – – Car-Knit Sweater (Driving Hobbies while your hubby takes the wheel)

10.  Call of the Wild – – Bawl of the Child  (Beyond Time-Out Punishments for your Little One)

Okay, alright. Those are awful.   I admit it.  I need my old Muse back.  Nobody should Lose their Muse.  I promise to be kind, grateful and most of all to think of a dignified name.  That’s right  – – I, Little Miss Menopause, do solemnly swear to attend a support group to stop “Muse Abuse.”  The meetings are held in the local Museum, of course.

And how do you treat your writer’s Muse when it goes Mute??