“You’re lying on the couch,” my muse observes with an arched eyebrow.
“Yes,” I say.
“You’re eating ice cream,” she continues. “While lying on the couch.”
“Yes,” I repeat.
“And you’re watching Spaceballs.”
“Yes,” I say again. “I am watching Spaceballs while eating ice cream while lying on the couch.”
She chitters with disapproval. “Is this a new way to write that nobody told me about?”
“I’m writing,” I reply. “Writing is about a lot more than typing, you know. You need time to, you know, ponder things.”
“Oh, so this is ‘pondering,’ then?” She flicks an invisible speck of dust from her whisker. “Because what you’re doing looks an awful lot like ‘farting around.’”
“Well, that’s why you’re not a writer.” I shoot back. I shovel a tablespoon of cookie dough ice cream into my maw to serve as a kind of punctuation. Then I add a postscript: “Leave me alone. I’m sick.”
But this news only emboldens her. She leaps upon the couch and scampers over to my ice cream bowl. “Sore throat?” she asks.
“Mucus?” Her nose is a-twitch with sympathy.
“Ice cream is bad for mucus-y sore throats.”
At that, she burrows her face into my bowl.
“HEY! EW! What do you think you’re doing?”
When she finally comes up for air, her face is more ice cream that face. “I’m pondering,” she replies.
She skims some of the goo from her muzzle with her delicate paw and laps it up. It’s a gesture that manages to be dainty and disgusting at the same time.
I sigh. “Look, I just spent the whole summer banging out a four-book series. So…”
“So…what?” she asks.
“So I deserve a break.”
“Yes,” I say. As I say this, however, I’m not quite sure I believe it.
“A break.” Between bites of ice cream, my muse rolls the the words over her tongue, trying them out. “A break,” she says again. “A break, a break, a break.”
Her expression grows hard. “BREAK’S OVER! GET YOUR FAT, LAZY TUCHUS OFF OF THIS COUCH!”
The sheer ferocity of her words raise me into a sitting position.
She pokes a scolding paw into my kidney. “And don’t let me ever let me catch you congratulating yourself for doing a job you desperately wanted to do in the first place!”
I feel myself nod.
“You’ve had a run of good publishing luck lately,” she says. “Who knows how long that luck of yours is going to last?”
Those words rattle around in my head. An unease, a sudden urge to get moving overwhelms me.
How long is it going to last? I wonder. A year? A month? Maybe less? Am I squandering my finite allotment of precious luck watching Spaceballs in the middle of the afternoon?
Memories of rejection flood my brain. Hundreds and hundreds of rejections.
I leap to my feet, my sore throat and mucus forgotten. The rantings of Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet fade into an incomprehensible, mumbling fog.
My muse plucks a good-sized chunk of cookie dough from my bowl. She shoves it into her mouth and continues to lecture through distended cheeks. “You need to stay hungry, buddy boy.”
“I will,” I say.
And I’m grateful for her words. She’s a pesky muse, but a wise one.
“You’re pretty smart for a rat,” I say.
“All rats are pretty smart,” she replies with a dismissive wave. Then she adds: “Especially when a rat is compared to you.”
She takes my place on the couch and adjusts her ample hindquarters into a cushion dent. “I’m gonna finish this ice cream for you.” she says. “And before you go, turn this crap off. Lawrence of Arabia is playing on TCM.”
My gratitude morphs into irritation. An impertinent rat always gets my dander up. “Why certainly,” I say. “Is there anything else I can do for you, your majesty?”
“Yes,” she replies, ignoring the sarcasm. “I want a thousand words by dinnertime. And those words better be gold.”
Thanks to the decidedly unratty Diana at Myths of the Mirror for serving as my muse for this post.