I'm sitting at my desk and staring at the blank computer screen when my Muse wanders into the room.
"Whatcha doing?" she asks, peering over my shoulder.
"I'm writing a blog post for The LadyKillers," I reply.
"No, you aren't." She points at the screen. "That page is empty. Not even a single word on it. You're not writing anything."
"I'm composing it in my head," I say, with just a smidge of defensiveness. "When I get it sorted out in my mind, my fingers will fly over those keys."
"I see," she says in that annoying tone that means she doesn't believe me.
"Honest, it's true," I insist. "I do my best work in my head."
She sighs and gives me a shove. "Move over. Let me sit down."
My Muse slides onto the chair. Even though she takes up half the seat, I'm always surprised by how comfortable I am when she's sharing it with me.
"Okay, let's get started," she says, her fingers poised above the keyboard. "What's this week's topic?"
"Lead or follow," I tell her.
"Wait a minute. That's not fair."
"Sure it is. That's how the writing process works. I lead by giving you ideas. You follow along and write them up. And you do it brilliantly, I might add."
"Thank you," I say, though this time I can't tell from her tone whether she's being sincere or sarcastic. I decide to go with sincere.
"In fact, you describe the process that way yourself." She jumps up and pulls a volume from a nearby shelf. "Right here in this book of yours, Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Short Stories. On page 13 you say, 'A story begins with a single idea, a glimmering--something that niggles at your brain and says, "Follow me." So that's what you do. There's no predicting where it will lead you.' Well, I'm the one who sets those glimmerings in motion. I lead, you follow."
She claps her hands with excitement. "And don't we
have wonderful adventures together? Voyages into the great unknown. Here's what
say next: 'Many a writer, upon finishing a manuscript, realizes that the finished product bears little resemblance to the story she thought she was setting out to write … Even when you decide on an ending early on, you can't know how you or your characters will get there until you actually undertake the journey, and you may discover that your destination changes as you travel along.' That happens because of me, you know. All of a sudden I decide to lead you in a new direction."
"That's true," I agree. "It drives me crazy."
"Yet it's for the best – for your good, and the good of the story."
I have to admit she's right, and I tell her so.
"Of course I am," she says. "I'm always right, sooner or later." She dusts her hands together, as if finished with something, and stands up. "There, your blog post is finished. Now why don't you follow me to the kitchen, and we'll have a snack."