Meet Enid, my extraordinary muse. Rain or shine Enid wears a double breasted camel coat with a Union Jack pin on the lapel, a hat that you can roll to jam into a suitcase, dark support hose and Crocks. She’s instructed me to let you know that she’s foregoing the ankle bracelet in 2013 and that she’s swapping her orange Crocks for green. Ever the fashion plate, my Enid.
And then there’s the bulging book bag. Enid’s packing PW, the 2009 Writers Market, Levenger’s catalogs, an autographed John Grisham novel (don’t ask), Hershey’s miniatures, one of those fancy wooden box of assorted tea bags, her PBS travel mug and a paddle ball game. (She likes to play with that when she’s getting impatient with me.)
I didn’t always have a muse. For the first few years of serious writing attempts, I had to be self-musing. Enid came into my life after the writer she was bemusing moved out of state and Enid opted to stay here to be closer to her grandchildren. (I know. I had no idea muses could have grandmuses.)
Enid typically pitches me ideas right before I go to sleep or when I’m in the shower. I understand that’s standard MMO (Muse Mode of Operation). She caught on early that there was no point in giving me a lot of detail when I’m in bed. Her ideas evaporate by morning. If I’m showering, I’m too soggy to capture anything on paper. So, mostly she gives me titles or character names and lets me dig for the rest. But it’s a start and that’s usually the toughest part.
Yes, Enid is a no-nonsense gal. Lest I give you the impression she lacks a sense of humor, I have heard her laugh. It’s more like a nasally, smirkish chortle. I typically hear it when she’s waiting for me to do something with an idea she’s pitched. She’ll go sit on an overstuffed stool in my office, reach into her bag and pull out a crisp copy of The New Yorker. Enid does love her snarky cartoons.
Has she ever laughed at anything I’ve written, you ask (meaning the stuff I’m intending to be funny). Yes and no. Once I saw Enid’s shoulders spasm as she covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. She was reflected in my computer screen as she read over my shoulder. Oh, please don’t tell her I saw.
But better than a laugh is an Enid smile. Enid is one of those eye smilers. You know the ones. The corners of their mouths turn up or down ever-so-slightly and 99 percent of the smile comes from their eyes. She has violet eyes. No, not violent. V-i-o-l-e-t eyes. Like her laugh, an Enid smile is a rare treasure. I work for those.
What’s that, Enid? You think I should blog about Heather?
Do you really think anyone wants to read about my Inner Critic?
What if I . . . (Oh, no. She’s going for the paddle ball game.)
No Enid smile today.
What about you? What does your muse look like?
Following my muse has worked out pretty well so far. I can’t see any reason to change the formula now.~Chris Van Allsburg