I move another publisher to the Pass list on the whiteboard in my writing office, transfer most of the publishers on the Active to the Inactive one per my agent, and add the latest three publishers to the Active roster before I return to my desk.
I’ve made up my mind. I close the document I’ve been staring at for the past, gads, a long while. I’ve got my first twenty pages about ready to send around to my writing sisters before our reunion, but I’ve been spinning my wheels on that story for a while now. Probably far too long.
The door to my writing office swings open. My Muse shakes his head and nudges the door closed behind him. He’s wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey with a St. Paul Saints hat, and faded jeans with a suspicious mustard-colored stain on one leg. “What are you doing, love?”
Somehow his Australian accent clashes with the baseball theme he’s got going. “Trying to write.” I think it is mustard. “Who’d you go out to the ball game with this time?”
“Pfft. Yeah, right.”
He settles on the corner of my desk. I can smell the stale beer now. And there’s another stain, this one an unnatural orange only seen in artificial cheese sauces. “I mean, what are you doing?” He turns my computer towards him. “I thought you said you were writing. I don’t see any writing going on.”
“There hasn’t been any writing going on for a while now, of which you are fully aware.” I open another document, this one a small-town mystery I set aside when I decided to start the book to follow the one my agent is shopping. “So, I’m shifting gears.”
He lifts his hat, scratches disheveled hair that needs a trim, then settles the ball cap again. He stands. “C’mon.”
“What do you mean, ‘come on’?”
He sighs, waves his hand in a “follow me” gesture, and crosses the office to the back door. “Just what I said.” The view outside the windows shifts to a thick temperate forest complete with wildflowers brightening the undergrowth. “You coming?”
Sure. It’s not like I’m busy trying to write or anything. I follow my Muse through a clearing to the rock-strewn shore of a lake surrounded by the dense forest. Two Adirondack chairs are planted side-by-side in a sandy section of the shoreline out of the reach of gentle waves. There’s not enough sand to call it a nice beach, but just enough to allow wading into the water.
He drops into one of the chairs and leans back, hands behind his head, long legs stretched out in front of him. I settle into the other chair. I’m starting to think this might be some sort of sneaky Muse trick.
“No, it’s not a trick. And trust me, love, if I wanted to be sneaky, you’d never see it coming.”
I hate it when he does that. “So glad my private thoughts are up for grabs. Stop it.”
He chuckles and offers a charming lopsided grin. “You know I won’t. You’re just too damn entertaining.”
“Glad you’re enjoying yourself,” I grumble. “Why are we out here?”
“You need to figure out what you’re going to do. You need 20 pages to send to your writing sisters. The question is, what project are you going to focus on?”
I slump back in the chair. “I’m going back to the small-town mystery.”
“But?” he prompts.
Arrgh. “But I’ve been thinking about doing some flash fiction or short stories.”
“Pick one or the other, love. Your book or shorts.”
“Other writers can work on a novel and a short story at the same time.”
He picks up a small stone and tosses it into the lake. Concentric circles ripple across the smooth surface. “Other writers who do that don’t have a full-time job, a big vegetable garden, and kids at home for the summer. Or a lack of focus.” With the last, he pokes my temple with a finger to emphasize each word. “You, on the other hand, have all of the above, with a big gold star for the last one.”
“Who did you really go to the game with? Gandhi? Sun Tzu? Jung? You’re getting a little philosophical. It’s kinda scary.”
“Would you rather have the Indiana Jones fedora and bullwhip? I can still go there.”
Hmm. He looks damn good as an adventuring archaeologist.
“I heard that, love. I’m flattered.”
“Comes with the job.” He stands, hands on hips. “Stand up.”
I consider ignoring him, but I decide to acquiesce to his request (can you tell I’ve recently watched Pirates of the Caribbean?). I stand.
He points to his face. “Look here.”
No reason to refuse that one. I comply, noting his 5 o’clock shadow.
“Focus.” He lifts a finger between us. “Right here.”
I’d much rather focus on something more interesting, like that dimple in his cheek.
“And that’s why you’re having trouble.” He grabs my shoulder and squeezes. Hard. “You will sit at your desk and write.” He pushes me ahead of him toward the office. “I’m going to block the wireless signal until you get your twenty pages figured out. No internet, no research, no email.”
“‘But’ nothing, love. I’m trying nice but firm. And I’ve got some Moon Man and Ghirardelli chocolate for you when you’ve gotten that finished.”
“Are you bribing me?”
I’ve got until next weekend to get my twenty pages dusted off and polished up before I have to send them off to the group. And my Muse is right, I’m having a hell of a time focusing lately. Maybe that was because of my uncertainty with the new project. Anyway, back to an old “new” project.
Have a great weekend, stay cool, and WRITE!