I like to imagine my muse with a cigar clamped in his teeth, wearing a fedora with a press card in the brim, and two fingers of whiskey at his side, the ice not having had a chance to melt in the glass as he takes another slug. He types furiously, of course, on a manual typerwriter which creates a serious din that means WORK is being produced.
(Sometimes, the soft tapping on my Dell just doesn’t feel significant enough. I miss the fierce way I could SMACK the carriage return arm and start another line.)
As far as the notion writers need some Muse to visit in order to work, even in a figurative sense, I think this is crap. Yeah, we all have some days that are tougher than others, but then, so do bricklayers. Dishwashers. If you’ve got time at the keyboard, who cares if you feel like it? Write. Write crap, even. Writing is learn-by-doing, so even writing crap is instructive.
It’s fun, though, to personify that fleeting, ephemeral inspiration. We’re creatures of imagination after all. The writers I know have even more fun badmouthing their muses, complaining about what lazy tarts they are, drinking all the gin and sleeping through their appointed shifts.
Anyway, it may not be the Muse’s harp (or cigar, as the case may be) that sparks that moment of inspiration, but isn’t it glorious when it happens, however it happens? When you scurry to the keyboard, or if that’s not possible, seize a grocery receipt and an eyebrow pencil and just start scribbling? And you think yes, hot damn, that’s it.
The title of Real Life & Liars, and the line of dialogue it comes from, came to me in a moment like that, standing in front of the bathroom mirror getting ready to dry my hair. The scene is almost at the end of the book, but at the time I was barely fifty pages into the first draft.
I’m due for another one about now, I think, for Book Two. Unfortunately, I see my Muse has passed out on his typewriter, having put out his cigar in the dregs of his drink. Best just to get to work, then…