It was the eve of Halloween, I was just about to come home, ready to take down my masquerade, because the kids were filled up with sweets and I was tired from a day full of pumpkin carving. A red flash with a skull face out of nowhere scared the wit out of me. The sparkling laughter of my muse filled the night, as she appeared clearly in a very good mood. “Did I spook you?”, she asked hopefully. Of course she did, I thought my jump backwards was proof enough of this. She smiled at me and said: “I am in the mood for a walk. Make us a nice and cosy path, I want to do something for you!”
I thought of a winding path alongside a small river, a painting in pure gold. The muse nodded in approval and took me by the hand: “Let’s go!” We walked a little bit in silence, before she stopped me to say: “You told me, that you are a blocked writer. I will show you, how a muse approaches this problem. Your block is not about ideas, that is clear to see.”
“I have more ideas for stories, than I could ever finish to write”, I said.
“Well, not if you learn to write more.” She winked at me. So sweet. “Your imagination works fine. Is this a fish there in the water?” She looked in the stream of bright gold. Yes, there were fish in the same light colour as everything I created for our walk. “Imagination and attention to detail is obviously working very well. And fast.” She looked into my eyes and into my thoughts. “You are full of fears”, she said calmly. “Interesting”, she added. “Tell me your symptoms!”
“I get very nervous, when I have to write”, I told her. “My belly gets weird, my head spins around, my concentration wobbles, it is almost like… like…”
“Like you’re in love?”, she smiled.
I shook my head. “No, it is very unpleasant. And I always hear voices of doubt in my head. It is so annoying! I can’t write two sentences in a row, without some piece of me thinking: No, that could be better! How can I ever finish something with that going on and on?”
The beautiful muse seemed pleased. I tried not to be offended by that. “Right, that is the first level of your block problem. You have to finish a story without editing it the whole way through.”
I nodded passionately. “Yes, exactly! I did that in the past. But I have the feeling, I lost this precious talent!”
“Well, that is perfect timing then! You know in just a few hours, nanowrimo starts.”
“Nanowrimo”, my muse repeated. “National novel writing month. You have to write 50.000 words of a novel. If you make it, you get a badge.” Her smile was so happy.
“So, I have three hours to come up with an idea for a book and then one month to write it?”
“Exactly! That is just the right challenge for you, isn’t it?” She turned to the river. “I will catch myself a fish.”
To be honest, I felt a bit numb. 50.000 words, that is not a walk in the park. And I had already thought my November was too full of things to be done to complete any of them. Oh, my sweet muse, you overestimate my power!
“No, I don’t”, she said. “Come here, little fishy! You underestimate yourself constantly!” A golden trout jumped out of the water, but missed the muses hands. “Besides, you don’t have to make it to the end, but you must try!” She caught the next jumping fish and burst into song: “But you must try!” And the trout sang with a deep voice: “Try and try!” And the muse again: “You’ll succeed at last!” She danced away to a happy doo-du-doo-doo-du-doo-du-doo-doo, making my feet wanting to dance with her.
It was a musequest, I thought. I have dreamt of challenges like that. This trout had a really deep voice, was also a thought that crossed my mind. I began to search for ideas.
“Woah, woah!”, the muse interrupted her song. “What are you doing? You are not thinking of a novel plotline, are you?”
I felt bedazzled. “It is three hours to midnight. When am I allowed to start thinking of what to write?”
My muse shook her head. “True or false: You have a poster of all your story-ideas on your toilet wall?”
“Well, that is true.”
“How many are on that poster? Come on, how many ideas did you write down?”
“I don’t know. Maybe twenty, perhaps twenty-five.”
“It’s forty!”, my muse confronted me. “Forty stories! Do you know how much you finished?”
“One, two? No, it has to be three at least.”
“I am picking the story for you! You are going to write Super Lemon”, she decided.
“Super Lemon?” I want to point out, that it is a working title. “But I can’t write Super Lemon! It blocks me! I’ve been working for years on that story. It is one of my favourites. But I… I…”
The muse took my hand again. “Don’t panic”, she said in the golden light and her soft smile calmed me down. “I will give you a present for every 5.000 words. It is going to be fun!”
I tried to look brave. “I will try”, I promised. Again my muse sang this song: “Try and try!” She held up the golden trout in front of my face. “You’ll succeed at last!”, the fish said to me, before it jumped back into the river.
My mused danced along the golden path, full of joy. It was pure beauty. “Your costume, is it inspired, by this mysterious Noel Fielding, you told me about.” I had completely forgotten, that I was still in fancy dress, with a purple painted face, a top hat, a frock coat and a black walking stick. “Yes”, I said aloud. “It is a female version of a character he played in The Mighty Boosh, the hitcher. I am the Lady Hitcher, if you want.”
“Scary”, she commented mid-dance. “But also sweet of you.” She made a perfect ballet-pirouette. “You should do more for your blog! I will send you notes!” She stopped in front of me. “It was a pleasure. And this little landscape of golden light – beautiful!” She made a bow and with the usual wink in her eye, she said: “Kind regards to the faun, if you happen to talk to him.” Then she was gone.
“50.000 words”, I said to myself after a while. “That would be ten presents from her.” Presents from a muse. I wondered, what they would be like. A singing choir of rainbow trouts, maybe?