How to Amuse a Muse

I wrote this for a college class about ten years ago. It’s how I imagine my personal muse to appear. Enjoy!

She sat in front of the computer, waiting. Waiting for something that it seemed, was not destined to happen. Ever, at least not within her lifetime. A faint rustling of wings sounded and a tiny but familiar weight settled onto her left shoulder. The wings fluttered again briefly, settling themselves, the motion bringing with it a faint stink of smoke and brimstone. So, it was going to be one of *those* writing sessions.

“What do you want?” she asked the weight on her shoulder irritably. “You just want to cause trouble. I know you.”

“Is that any way to talk to the creature that tells you stories, that gives you inspiration, that breaks the lock of the dreaded writer’s block?” Its arms and wings moved in a dramatic gesture, causing it to nearly tumble from its perch.

“You aren’t that creature. That would be a muse, and you, my little tormenter, are a demon.”

“Don’t I give you ideas?” it wheedled. A tiny clawed hand gripped her ear to keep from falling again as she turned her head to look it in the eye.

“Sure, you wait until I’m almost asleep and then you torture me with ideas, really good ones–” the creature preened at the compliment, “– but you always make sure I’m too sleepy to get up and write them down. Or you slip them into a dream and I forget them after I wake up.” She stared at the tiny incubus, glaring as it tried to look apologetic.

“Look, I’m sorry,” it told her. “I’m what you got. You have to admit, when you do get up off your lazy butt and write the stories I tell you–” The writer’s shoulder twitched threateningly and the demon reconsidered the wisdom of using the word ‘lazy’ while sitting this close to her hand. It couldn’t actually die but getting smacked into a wall hurt, immortality or not. “–Well, they are pretty good, aren’t they?” it crooned in her ear.

“I said they were, didn’t I? It’s just that, well, your timing is horrible. You tease me with ideas late at night, or when I’m at work and I can’t take the time to write. The best I can do is scribble something on a piece of paper and hope I remember that it’s in my pocket before I wash my uniform.” She turned to look at the bird-sized demon perched on her shoulder. “Why couldn’t I have ended up with a different muse? At least one that smelled better, anyway.”

Its wings flapped gently and it sniffed at the breeze created, checking for any odd aromas. “I don’t smell anything.”

She snorted a little laugh. “I guess not. But why the demon form? I mean, I thought muses were women wearing robes or something. What gives?”

The creature sighed with an air of infinite, but strained patience. “How many times do I have to explain it?”

“You never have!” she exclaimed.

“I haven’t?! Oh my, that must have been one of my others.” It reached into a hidden pocket and pulled out a tiny day-planner. “Monday… Tuesday…Thursday–” It was interrupted in its thoughts by her outraged squawk.

“You mean I don’t even have a muse all to myself? What kind of operation is this, anyway?!”

The incubus put away the book and turned to face her. Its tiny hind claws gripped her shirt tightly and its leathern wings were slightly open to help it keep its balance as it tried to explain.

“You see, some writers have a full-time muse. Really prolific authors like John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Steven King. By the way–” it leaned toward her conspiratorially, “if you think I’m weird looking and smell bad, you should meet Steven King’s muse. Whew! Even *I* can smell that one! Anyway,” it continued, “newer writers, like yourself, get a part-time muse. We sort of fit to your preferences and work when we can, hence the weird timing. As you get better, you might get one assigned full time, but we still don’t work 24-7. Even we need time off to hang out at the beach, hide under children’s beds: you know, the usual. That’s what you describe as writer’s block. You know, you can work it out on your own, I don’t want to have to do *all* the heavy labor around here.”

“I guess you’re right,” she admitted. “It’s just very frustrating, especially when you bring that friend of yours along at night that whispers in my other ear about what a good idea it is and how mad I’m going to be if I don’t get up. And then I fall asleep! Is that some kind of racket you’ve got going?”

The demon snickered. “Nope. That’s actually my brother-in-law. He’s a first cousin to the sandman, but he didn’t have the right attitude so he can’t get on in the family business. I bring him along to keep him out of more trouble and try to get you moving when I’ve got a really good idea. You remember some of your dreams anyway. I know you do.”

“Only sometimes.” She sighed. “So, what can I do to make your job easier so I can write?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” it replied. The incubus moved forward to survey what was on her desk. “First of all,” it pointed to a can of diet soda, “get rid of that stuff. Gives me heartburn. And some chocolate and caffeine might be nice. Remember those chocolate covered expresso beans that Diana sent you….?”