Sunday, November 23, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update: Taming the Muse

No Lazy Time post today. In its stead, please allow me to entertain you with this short excerpt from my NaNoWriMo submission. A little more humorous than the last piece I posted. Certainly, there's a lot less Hitler in it. This is a rough draft, so no hating. Enjoy!

Taming the Muse

“I really fucking hate you,” I said as I stared at the blank page on the computer screen for what seemed like an eternity. I had been trying to write this stupid story for days, but nothing was coming to me. Nothing. At this point, I would have made do with one line of a dirty limerick, but the words were stuck somewhere in the ether. The blank page stared back at me, mocking me with its crisp white surface.

“A piece of paper is an inanimate object, Emily my dear. It has no sentience, can not feel your ire, and therefore does not give a bloody crap what you think of it,” Grim said in that British Cockney accent I had thought was kind of cool when I first met him, but now just grated.

I glared at him. “I wasn’t talking to the blank page.”

Grim smirked at that and shrugged while taking a hit from his joint. “Touché.”

He was floating inches above the mattress of my bed in my crappy one room apartment, staring at the ceiling while smoking a joint. Every now and then he would blow smoke out of his nose and make rings, or a smiley face, or silly animal shapes. And he was listening to easy listening music. Fucking Kenny G, man. I mean, ugh! The music alone was screwing with my powers of concentration and the reefer smoke wasn’t helping much either.

“Why do you listen to that crap?” I asked waving away a smoky cloud that kind of looked like a deformed rabbit. “I thought you grunge types were into old fashioned alternative shit.”

“First of all, I’m Goth, not grunge,” he said primly. “Second, Kenny G makes me mellow, man. Like puppies and…and ocean waves and…fluffy white…what’s the word, Love?”


He snapped his fingers, “That’s the bunny.”

I rolled my eyes.

He wasn’t what you expected when you thought of the word “muse”. Most of the advertisements on television had gorgeous long haired men or women with eyes that looked right through you and ethereal voices that nearly made you weep from the mere joy of hearing them. Just being in the same room with them made you write whole novels in one setting, I had heard. Those were your top of the line models, of course. Nothing close to what my budget could afford.

And then there were the bargain basement muses like Grim. Tall and skinny, with scraggly dark hair that always seemed to need to be combed. He wore the same faded black trench coat, the same black t-shirt with holes in it with a band name I didn’t recognize that probably hadn’t played a gig since Nirvana was a thing. His nails were darkened with Manic Panic black nail polish that might have been cool in the mid-nineties, but was now just a pathetic grab for attention. His eyes didn’t see right through you, mostly because they were usually too red from drinking or smoking crap he shouldn’t. He was a walking, talking anachronism from a decade when writers just didn’t give a shit. Hell, half the stuff he came up with, I couldn’t even understand.

He wasn’t much to look at, but I had never really cared about that. I could care less if he was a card carrying member of the Trenchcoat Mafia-whatever the hell that was-or a gothed out little British shit and a lazy shit for all that. He could be a piece of freaking plywood for all I cared, just so long as he produced one goddamn idea worth writing about. He had been under contract as my muse for a full year, and I still hadn’t written a word. At least, nothing marketable.

“I don’t know why I ever took you on as a muse,” I said pushing the keyboard away from me in disgust.

“Because you’re broke and I came cheap.”

“Oh, yeah,” I said slumping down in my chair with a grimace. “I knew I should have listened to my mother when she told me not to go for that English degree. ‘Be a doctor,’ she said. ‘Be a lawyer,’ she said. Hell, she would have been okay if I had taken Funeral Science as my major. People die every day. At least I’d get paid.”

“Yeah!” Grim nodded as he took another hit and pointed at me. “Write about that.”

“Changing my major?” I said frowning. “Where’s the story in that?”

“Nah you dizzy bird! Write about some chick that takes Funeral Science as her major.”

I stared at him blankly. “And?”

He rolled his eyes. “Just make up a character. Have the character enroll in an embalming class or whatever is they do. Let the chips fall where they may, as you bloody Yanks say.”

“We don’t say that.”


He made a rude gesture and went back to contemplating the cosmos via the ceiling. He was levitating high enough now that his nose was practically touching it.

I got up from my desk and started pacing the room. I thought the idea over. It might work, but…

“No, no. That doesn’t help me! Where’s the plot?”

“Not my department, Love,” he said letting out another puff of fowl smelling smoke that made me choke. “I’m only under contract to give vague impressions of an idea. It’s up to you to come up with the meat of the story and to hammer out the details.”

“You got the vague part right, that’s for sure.” I made a rude noise. “Okay. Make a main character. Make a main character…We’ll make her a failed writer.”

“Will she look like you?”

I shot him an evil look, but that only made him laugh. Or the pot was really getting to him. “She’s a failed writer who goes back to school after her mother harasses her to find a job that actually pays real money.”

“Why Funeral Science, though?” he asked. “Why not a doctor or lawyer or taco sales woman or whatnot?”

I thought that one over. Why would she go? “It’s the family business. They own a funeral parlor that’s been in the family for generations. They’ve been hounding her to learn the ins and outs of the business for years. Now that she’s hit rock bottom and she needs to go back for school for something, her parents tell her they won’t put a dime towards her education unless she finally gives into fate and takes FS.”

Grim nodded. “That’s a cool character background. The Grimster likes.”

I smiled and sat back at my desk to type all this down before I forgot.

“Hey, maybe the funeral parlor is cursed or something?” he said, starting to come down from the ceiling to hover over my shoulder. “Haunted by the ghost of ancestors past or maybe the family patriarch made a deal with the devil that needs to be paid off by his daughter’s blood or sanity. Oh wait…” A huge shit eating grin spread over his face. “What if it’s not the devil?”

“Here we go,” I said with a sigh. I knew what was coming.

“What if it’s one of the Elder Gods? What if it’s…Cthulhu?”

It’s always Cthulhu with Grim. Jeeze.

I paused in my typing and gave him a skeptical look. “Another paranormal story? Seriously?”

“It’s what I’m good at.”

“Not good enough to get me published.”

“Straight drama is boring, Love,” Grim said waving off my reservations. “You wanna write the contemporary shit, you might as well get a boring job that pays well.”

“Like a taco sales woman?” I said raising an eyebrow.

He pointed his joint at me. “Don’t knock the profession, Love. Those blokes who own the food truck around the corner are the shit. They make good money and they spread deliciousness and joy where ever they go.”

“Uh huh,” I said not really in the mood to argue.
I was typing like a mad woman now. My creative juices were flowing again. I just hoped this story was delicious enough to get me paid.

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