The Muse: or Why I Exchanged Mike for a Vibrator
by Reneé George
Writing is a tedious business at its worst, and a bullet train speeding along at ten thousand miles per hour on a collision course with words, and thoughts, and ideas at its best.The train, of course, is the one they refer to as the Muse, or as I like to call him, Mike.Mike used to have the more traditional name of Makis, which is just Greek for Michael, but over the centuries his name has been bastardized to its present self. Conventionally, muses are thought of as women. Nine sisters to be exact, but the male muse has been around for just as long.Not a lot of famous women writers emerged during the first couple of centuries, so the boys didn’t get much exposure.
My muse, Mike, touches my mind in smooth strokes, softly beckons me to put hands to keyboard, and whispers seductively: a sentence, a word, a character, all seeds from him, planted and fertile.With great veracity, he stirs thoughts and memories, pushing ever onward.The pages are pure gold.He is driving the story home. I can always feel that slight twitch, a little pressure that lets me know the climax is near.Then Mike, like the asshole he is, prematurely ejaculates, pulls out, and says, “Finish it yourself, bitch.”
The bastard leaves me with the female version of the proverbial blue-balls.It hurts.So, I do what any other red-blooded writer would do.I masturbate.I fumble a line here, add a word there, trying to mimic his well-timed rhythm.Every once in a while, I’ll feel like I’m almost there—ready to explode all over the final pages. Nothing happens.I try for ambiance, a juicy character, a hint of texture, or some exotic locale.It doesn’t work.
It is at these moments that I have to wonder: has a muse ever visited this kind of suffering on any of the greats?Did the malevolent spirits thrust the words “If music be the food of love, play on,” into Shakespeare’s grasp, only to yank themselves away after the fourth act of Twelfth Night?Was Joyce left to his own device three-quarters of the way through The Dead before Gabriel realizes how convoluted and superficial his life really is? Did Melville break out the lubrication before Ahab rose from the sea strapped eternally to the awe inspiring great white whale? My response: I fucking hope so!
The idea of early withdrawal of inspiration in these true geniuses is the only thing that keeps me from banging my head against a wall and shouting, “Why do you torment me, oh, my muse! Give me your favor still.” Okay, so I stole a little Shakespeare, but it’s a more eloquent than, “Mike, get your ass back here, because I am far from being done!”
The poet, Theodore Roethke, once described the Muse as “A lively understandable spirit [who] once entertained you. It will come again. Be still. Wait.”Understandable spirit?Mike’s more like an understandable pain in my ass.I’m not patient. I don’t know how to be still and wait.I don’t want to wait.So, I have a plan—ditch Mike.I mean, what has he done for me?Nada. Nothing. Zip.Other than keeping me awake for hours after midnight typing away at what he promises will be the “next great thing.”He takes things from my past and helps me to rehash them in a new way, but drops out before I get any resolution. All in all, he’s been a great disappointment.
I have thought about trading up for an Alex, or maybe a Bob, but knowing my luck, I’d end up with a complete impotent. So, I’m striking out on my own.No more will I be a slave to Mike’s whims.William Faulkner wrote, “…the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself…alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the sweat and the agony.”Well, I have enough conflict in my heart to fill a library.And I am tired of sweating and agonizing over the lack of inspiration.
Some writers might think that it’s a dangerous or even a stupid task to spurn the Muse.But the way I figure, Mike’s got it coming. Besides, I’m tired of being used. Oh, I’m certain that I can’t get rid of him all together.He’ll come knocking late some night, like he always does. I’ll get up to appease him—he’s very hard to resist.But the next time, when he quits on me as soon as he’s had his fill, as he is prone to do, I am going to dim the lights, put on some soft music, whip out the metaphorical vibrator, and finish the job he started.