I attended a workshop recently, where we were given a prompt to work from. We had about 15 minutes to write whatever came to us, and it didn’t have to be about the prompt. We just had to let flow whatever was in us.
The whole process brought to mind what I’d written on Facebook once, about wrestling my muse. I let that idea flow through me, and this is what arrived.
I rose from the kitchen table and stretched, my joints creaking and popping audibly. The broken clock on the wall hid from me the secret of how long I’d been sitting there, bent and straining, reaching for something inside to pour out onto the pages of my notebook. My muse had not come. As usual, I would need to go to him.
The doorknob of the outside kitchen door was cold in my hand as it turned noiselessly. The door opened outward, and streams of brilliant, golden sunlight crashed into my home, causing me to blink back tears. I stepped out of the safety of my dwelling, and into The Other Place.
My driveway was gone, replaced by a green field of wild grass. The street leading up to my house was now a babbling brook, trickling and skipping away from a waterfall that burbled and splashed invitingly. A rainbow stretched in a perfect arch just beyond the waterfall. Overhead, a perfect cerulean sky was splotched with light, slowly drifting, white cotton-candy clouds.
I stepped out into the grass and sighed. I hated it when it began this way.
I’ve never met the muse of another creator. I’ve read stories, though. These slender, toga clad nymphs, with long, flowing hair bound up with a wreath. They float across the ground like angels, and they kneel, delicately whispering their magic into the minds and hearts of those they find worthy. Perhaps it was this sort of creature that inspired Galileo or Mozart. This ideal, tranquil setting seemed perfect for such a creature.
I waited for a while, and I closed my eyes. I heard his approach before I saw him, and I steeled myself.
The guttural roar of his low rider pierced the quiet of the meadow, scattering birds and drowning out the gentle burbling of the brook. From the shadows rode my muse, a huge, menacing hulk of a creature, tattooed, scarred, and angry. Always angry.
He pulled up next to me, the rear wheel of his hog tearing deep gouges in the earth. He stepped off his bike, his booted heal grounding the soft earth so hard I thought that the land itself should cry out in pain. He stood in front of me, chewing a stub of a cigar. Then he reached for the lead pipe strapped to his bike, and I knew that it was about to begin.
“Bring it on, Writer-Boy,” my muse said in a deep growl. “Let’s see what you got.”
Sometimes, I really hate the creative process.