I look up as the door to my writing office opens. My Muse enters, closes the door behind him. He’s wearing a black hoodie with a kangaroo pocket and the MN Vikings logo in bold purple, yellow, and white. His well-worn jeans (in every sense of the word) have a stain on one leg at knee-level. He smells like stale beer, fried food, and that scent of “crowd” you get whenever you walk into an indoor stadium.
“When did you go to a Vikings game?” I ask. “They play tomorrow.”
He looks down at his sweatshirt. “Why do you ask?”
“You smell like a football game. I thought Aussie football was more your speed.”
He drops into the recliner next to mine in a corner of the office. “Of course it is, love, but I can’t very well head home every time I want to watch a game. American football is the next best thing. And maybe I’m caught up a little too much with it; you know the Vikes will probably blow the next game.”
Uh huh. “So, no washing your lucky shirt?” Superstitious much? They’re 10 and 2, but history tells us they choke when they get too close to the playoffs. Whatever. I’ve been feeling like my creative energy is in a holding pattern, there but mostly inaccessible. My stomach bunches up as I ask him the question that’s been bothering me for the past week. “Are you avoiding me?”
He reaches behind the chair to grab a beer out of the mini-fridge. “Why do you ask?”
I slide my mechanical pencil into the spiral binding of my notebook. He didn’t answer my question. “You know I’ve been trying to work on Book 2 since before Nano. I’ve been trying to cobble together act three of the plot thread. I think that’s why I’m stuck.”
The bottletop tings as it hits the desk across the room and bounces off the rim of the trash bin. “You haven’t exactly been begging for my help, love.”
“What do you mean?” I retract the footrest of my recliner, slide to the edge of the seat, and turn toward him, waving my notebook like a baton. “I can’t focus. It’s not like I haven’t been trying. So why have you been AWOL?”
“You’ve been distracted.”
“Like that’s ever stopped you before.” Wait. “Distracted by what?”
He leans forward, elbows on his knees, beer bottle dangling from his fingers. “Real life. Winter. Waiting on your editor’s feedback. Your kids’ non-existent Christmas lists. Procrastination. Pick one.” He tips the beer to his lips.
The room gets warmer all of a sudden. I miss him. Really miss him. And not just because he’s a fine specimen of masculine energy. “Again, that’s never bothered you before. You’re usually on my ass about something. I’ve been trying to work through the plot of Book 2. Where are you? Not on my ass.”
He leans toward me. “Better question, where are you?” He touches my forehead with a finger. “In here. It’s like you’re waiting for something, and everything else has to wait. I can’t shove creative energy into that.” He leans back, hits me with those incredible blue eyes. “You have to let me. It’s my job. You have to keep moving, love, or you’ll stagnate. You know that. That’s why you need to power through. What do you call it? The muddle in the middle.”
“Yeah. It’d help if I had a friggin’ clue what the climax is supposed to be.”
Another sip. “You know how it ends. The good guys win. The bad guys complain about meddling kids.”
“Har, har. There’s more to it. The sorta bad guy needs to redeem himself after giving my protagonist a hard time six years ago. There’s got to be more danger to my protag. My two MCs have to have more conflict.” Sigh. “Maybe I’m writing the wrong story. Maybe I should work on my rural mystery for a while.”
My Muse shakes his head. “Finish this draft. If you don’t do it now, you might not ever do it. Once it’s written, you can go back and fix it.”
That’s the problem. Writing it. “You need to stick around.”
He chuckles, but not like he’s amused, more like he’s patronizing me. “Will you listen to me? Because if you won’t, there’s a rugby match in Adelaide calling my name.”
“What happened to the Indiana Jones fedora and bullwhip? The whole drill sergeant thing?”
“It’s not working for you right now, love. So,” he straightens, “I’m going to try something different.”
Uh-oh. “Like what?”
His slow smile tightens my shoulders with unease. “Oh, I have some ideas. Just have to try a few to see which ones work.”
My son’s home from college for the next month. He just turned the big two-oh, so I’ll probably take him on a mom-and-me birthday outing tomorrow. That leaves today to grind through the middle of my WIP. Maybe I’ll toss a bomb into the mix, just to get something moving.
Go forth and write!