What Path?

I was happily typing along, following a well-defined path, sure I knew its curves and destination. Then, suddenly, the muse and character said, “Turn right here, on this path.”

Thinking my headlights flashed illumination on the sketchiest of paths through the grass between some big friggin’ dark trees, I made the turn, even though I was asking them, “Are you sure? Where are you taking me?”

“Trust me,” the muse replied.

That sentence knotted my stomach. Leaning forward and peering through the darkness as we bumped along, I turned on the wipers and windshield cleaner to clear off the windshield so I could see better. The wipers smeared the dirt across the windshield instead of taking it off, making it harder to see where we were going. I did have an idea of the direction (I’m not that stupid). But, oh, man, didn’t the muse realize that was going to make the novel longer, and take more time to finish?

“Damn it, are we absolutely sure we want to take this path?” I said.

“Yes,” the muse said.

“But the complications. You and the rest of the muses, and the characters all know where we’re going and what’s going on, but I’m not so certain.” My whining tone made me cringe.

“That’s okay,” the muse said.

“But don’t you see? That means that I’ll need to stop and think about it.”

“You always want to over-analyze everything.”

“Maybe, but it’s my name on the book. I believe I have a right to know what I’m writing.”

The muse scoffed. “The name on the book is a material matter that has nothing to do with its contents.”

“The author is immaterial?”

“Yes. The contents — the story being told — is what’s important.”

“Well, okay, I agree, but still — ”

“Yes, go do your walking and thinking. Do what you must do. We’ll be here, waiting for you to start typing okay. Only remember, the more you stall by thinking it over, the more there will be for you to type when you resume. You’ll be behind.”

As I absorbed that, the muse laughed. “You didn’t think the story stopped just because you stopped, did you?”

The muse was right. That hurt and dismayed me, partly because he seemed to mocking me. It also irritated me because the muse is always right, but the way that they guide me, it often feels like I’m being ambushed. I feel like, just when I’m catching up, one of the muses pull something like this.

Well, screw the muse, I’m hungry. With that as my excuse, it’s time to stop writing like crazy.



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