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Just me.

Rabbit 5

Posted on 2005.01.27 at 15:16
"It comes to this," Calliope said. "In every writer's life, they come to a fork in the road."

"The imaginary road?" I asked.

"No, nimrod. Route 28 to Concord." She rolled her eyes. "There comes a point of decision."

I sipped my tea. It was too late in the day for coffee, and the tea was soothing on my ragged throat. "A cusp."

"Yes! Exactly. A cusp." She grinned. "You gotta love pretentious writers. They come up with the best words, and try to make it sound like that was the only possible word that could be used there. Anyway. You're moving onto cusp, and it seems to me you need to approach it in an informed manner."

I nodded, listening. Well, mostly listening. I noticed my stuffed Skull plushie had started dancing with my Narbonic gerbil in the background. Tango, I think. Or maybe Paso Doble. Without music, it was hard to tell, but they were having a good time.

"Mostly, you have to decide why you're writing."

I blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Did I stutter?"

"I thought you said the whys and hows weren't as important as the whos and wheres."

"I did. Now I'm saying the whys are important. We've passed that turn and we're in the home stretch. Why do you write?"

I stopped to consider the question. I've heard all the rote answers before, but I never liked them. I'm driven to write is the most common. It's excruciatingly hard but it's an addiction and I need the keyboard or I'll go mad. Or there was the pure art argument. Or the "I want to be a bestselling author and quit my job argument." Or even the arrogant because I like being the center of attention argument.

I rejected them all. Writing wasn't painful to me and it wasn't a compulsion. While I try to work within an aesthetic I also write some pure drivel and I know it. And the bestselling author argument was a mug's game. One out of every thousand writers makes any money at all, and only one out of every thousand of them makes enough that they don't have to do anything else. And when they do hit that point, then it really is their job.

And everyone resents their job.

Oh, and the arrogance? I have that in spades, but there's lots more I write and don't show anyone than there is the stuff I do show people.

"I guess... it's because I like writing."

Calliope stared at me. "You like. Writing."


"That's all. You write thousands of words a month on your blog... you write thousands of words in novels... you write short stories and poetry... because you like to write?"

"Well... yeah. Why would I possibly do it if I didn't like to write?"

Calliope blinked. "Huh. Good question. What is it you like about it?"

"Well... I like the flush of pleasure I get as I'm typing the words -- seeing with my writerly eyes, as you say. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish. I like the way it organizes my thoughts and exorcises my demons. It's just... pleasurable. Is that so wrong?"

"No... no, it's not. It's just not what I expected."

"What did you expect?"

"From you? Some pseudophilosophy on the aesthetic principle, coupled with a desire to walk into Barnes and Noble and see a book with your name on it."

"Well, those are nice too... but honestly, there's no real mystery here. I just like to do it."

She leaned forward. "And if you never exceed the limit you've reached? Remember, Robert Burns died at 37 -- the very age you just turned. You could die tomorrow. Or be hit by a bus on your way home today. Or you might just never 'make it.' No one might want to publish Trigger Man or Theftworld. Are you okay with that?"

I half-smiled. "You know something? I write a blog that gets more visitors in a day than read the original printing of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. I have a million words sitting in internet archives for anyone who takes the time to read them. I've corresponded with artists and fans and editors and writers. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, that's good enough for me. Because through it all, I've enjoyed doing the writing. Isn't that enough?"

Calliope half-smiled. "Yeah. That's enough." She leaned back. "You're never going to win a Hugo award, you know."

"Really? Seems to me people who write what they want because they like it are the very people who should win awards."

"Yeah, and while we're at it there should be universal health care and comic books should still cost a dime. But in the real world, it's not the people following their own sense of vision who win awards."

I shrugged. "Not my problem."

Calliope's smile grew a bit. "Y'okay. I'll keep you."

"Excuse me?"

She got up. "I said I'll keep you. This was your performance review."

"Wait -- you were considering dropping me?"

"Hey, it's nothing personal. But like I said, our caseloads have been getting pretty tight lately. You have to separate out the good investments from the bad investments."

"But... I told you I don't care if I sell books or win awards."

Calliope snorted. "Dude, I'm your muse, not your agent. I don't care if you ever sell a damn thing again."

"Oh... then what do you care about?"

"I want writers working for me. I want people who open up their text editors every time they sit down at their computers, or pull out their sketchbooks and scribble words whenever they get coffee. The nature of the muse is imagination. The aesthetic medium of the muse is inspiration. You think I want to spend my life hooked into people writing Harlequin Romances?"

"So... we work well together."

"So far." She paused. "Still, clean your damn office. I mean, Jesus Christ, look at this place."

"All right, all right." I smiled. "Lunch."

"A well fed muse is a happy muse. Lead on."


"You are one messed-up puppy."
jenfullmoon at 2005-01-27 20:20 (UTC) (Link)
Awwwww. What a great story!

I still haven't even STARTED mine yet. And yours is so brilliant!
gaaneden at 2005-01-27 20:23 (UTC) (Link)

*drive-by commenter*

Love this rabbit hole entry!
pvenables at 2005-01-27 20:29 (UTC) (Link)
It entertains AND it teaches. Now I'm gonna go home fearful that my muse is watching me, waiting for me to pull out he sketchbook to see if I have the fire inside me.

I dare not start CoH in favour of the sketchbook methinks... :)
Elizabeth McCoy
archangelbeth at 2005-01-27 20:57 (UTC) (Link)

I hope I get my muse back when the minx goes to full-day school. I mean, I know the wench is part-timing now.
Dave Van Domelen
dvandom at 2005-01-27 22:21 (UTC) (Link)
To quote somebody (and the exact identity eludes my foggy and sleep-deprived brain, but it was probably one of the Howling Curmudgeons), "I write because it personally amuses me to do so." That others read it is pure gravy. :)
auraesque at 2005-01-27 23:26 (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant. Happy Rabbit Hole Day.

toddandpenguin at 2005-01-28 02:23 (UTC) (Link)
I am saving this so I have something good to read tomorrow on my break. Happy Birthday!
nthmike at 2005-01-28 05:34 (UTC) (Link)
That was great. Happy birthday. :D
the_iron_troll at 2005-01-28 15:56 (UTC) (Link)

Happy Birthday! May your Muse remain as pleased, and may your work flow like water.
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