By Margaret Lucke
"Finally!" I say. "Where have you been?"
She comes around behind and peers over my shoulder at the computer screen.
"That page is blank," she announces. Talk about stating the obvious.
"Well, duh," I tell her.
She leans forward to look closer. Tea splashes on my shoulder. "Why are there no words on it?"
"Because I haven't started yet. I don't know what to write." Rubbing at the wet spot, I whine, "It's your fault. If you would just show up on time . . ."
"Oh, you don't need me."
"Yes, I do." Then I make my dire confession: "I have write's block."
She laughs, which is not the response I was hoping for. "What a silly notion."
"Are you claiming there's no such thing as writer's block? Because I can assure you it's real. I can't tell you how often I've been afflicted with--"
"--with fear, lack of confidence, perfectionism, procrastination, other things in your life that demand time and attention, and outside distractions. You know, your neighbors really should get rid of that annoying rooster."
A loud cockle-doodle-doo from the adjoining backyard punctuates her point.
"But all of those are only excuses," my Muse concludes. "All you have to do is start putting down words."
By now I'm up from my desk, pacing around. The sight of the empty page has become unbearable. "I can't just fill a page by writing blah blah blah one hundred times. The words have to make sense. They have to tell a story. They have to be exciting and compelling so the reader will get hooked and keep on reading."
"No, they don’t. Not yet. You know what Nora Roberts said: 'I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank page.' At this point it's okay to write drivel. Let your characters loose to wander around. They'll stumble on the story sooner or later. Once they do, you can go back and make the words pretty."
She sits down in my chair and for a few seconds her fingers fly across the keyboard. Then she gets up again and dusts off the seat. "Okay, your turn."
I read what she's written: Once upon a time. Not much help. "What comes next?"
"Oh, you can figure that out for yourself."
I stare at the words. No matter how hard I strain my brain, no thoughts are forthcoming. Finally I say, "I really need your assistance here."
She shakes her head and giggles. The sound is as irksome as the rooster's crow. "No, it’s up to you."
My Muse breaks into a grin. "Well, why didn’t you say so? I prefer the dark kind. With almonds."
I go to the kitchen and bring back a treat for each of us. When I sit down again, she places her guiding hand on my damp shoulder. I retype her phrase--Once upon a time--and keep going. The words tumble onto the page. They are clunky and awkward, but my Muse and I can fix them later--so long as I remember to replenish my supply of chocolate.