He chain-smokes cigars and hates cats…

He looks kinda like Danny DeVito in a turban. And he sounds a lot like George Burns in “Oh, God.” Only not so friendly. And, though I don’t have to rub a magic lamp to get his attention, sometimes I’d like to lock him up in one. More on that later, though.

How did I end up with this mean-spirited nag?

Well, you might ask. And so did I, many times. But so far, my heartfelt pleas have gone unanswered. Yet, still, I cry to the gods, why me? My writers’-rep assures me I haven’t pissed off anyone, as far as she can tell, at least not too badly, so it really must be the just luck of the draw.

When I first declared myself a writer and applied to the Bureau of Muses and Inspiration for my personal muse, I specifically asked for a female muse. 

I’ve already survived three relationships; I don’t need my muse telling me how and what to write, as well.

But, no — the female muses were already occupied.

  • Calliope, protector of poetic works, the rhetoric arts, music, and writing, is far too busy with the likes of Spielberg, J.K. Rowling, Diaz, Marilynne Robinson. To say nothing of the ever-growing lineup of Ted-talkers.
  • Clio’s trying to protect History from the American and Russian leaders who seem to be bent on rewriting it for their own ends. Gods, help her.
  • Erato has her hands full looking out for Eliot, Yeats, Pound and Plath. And now, poor girl, she trying to keep up with the next generation of poets: Aalfs, Abdurraqib, Abee, Aberjhani, Abramson, Accardi, Acevedo… and that’s only the start of the ‘A’s.
  • Euterpe, protector of songs and poetry of death, love, and war is busy with country music composers and Broadway — Schönberg, Sondheim and Weber re-mounts are enough to keep anyone hopping.
  • Melpomene’s usually off to the opera, but I’m told she’s currently trying to keep Marvel from turning the Avengers last stand into a bigger blood bath then the last one. We really can’t afford to lose any more superheroes, now can we?
  • Polyhymnia, protector of divine hymns, geometry and grammar would be an okay fit, but so many writers just don’t believe in her anymore, she’s developed a fading condition, like Tinkerbell. Do you believe in grammar? Please, if you want to save Polyhymnia, clap for good grammar.
  • Terpsichore of the harp and the dance just wouldn’t be a good fit, even if she had the time. Can you imagine trying to type and stay in step with “Riverdance”? Flying feet — hah! My keyboard would be airborne, too.
  • Thalia, the protector of comedy, and sciences, including geometry, architecture, agriculture, and symposiums is up to her eyeballs with the tech explosion and seminar-itis sweeping the country. And after all, everybody’s a comedian, right?
  • Urania is the protector of celestial bodies, creator of astronomy. Okay, not a good fit, but I’m getting desperate. But, no. Again. When Thalia’s not being the eternal Funny Girl, she and Urania are off together overseeing the tech-splosion.

At this point, having gone through every muse on the books and still come up dry. I offered to switch genres.

Like changing majors in college. I figured I could stop writing detective fiction and try romance or erotica. Become the next Jackie Collins or Danielle Steele.

At that point, the Bureau became very bureaucratic: “The genre doesn’t matter. There are only so many muses available for writers. Period.”



“Okay,” I thought. “What about a Fairy Godmother?” I’d already decided to stay away from Godfathers. Those sorts of arrangements don’t tend to end well.

Well, and, you didn’t hear this from me, Fairy Godmothers are pretty much the Court of Final Appeal in the Inspire-Me business. And the criteria to acquire one from the Bureau of Muses and Inspiration are very strict.

  1. Maiden — seeking True Love. Maiden? O. M. G. Okay, the love would be nice, but I’m not even close to the maiden ballpark. What else do they want?
  2. Maiden — fallen on Hard Times. Okay, being forced to cater to the needs of a cruel step-family is definitely “hard times.” And, keeping house for seven little people? I don’t care how cute Disney made them — cooking, cleaning and laundry for seven men? Really? And she smiles and sings? She’s drunk the kool-aid.
  3. Maiden — seeking Happily Ever After. Really, people. Have you not seen “Into the Woods”? There’s no such thing. Suddenly I’m pinning my writing success on a muse — sorry, on a Fairy Godmother — who’s delivering some sketchy future based on a myth? Have you seen the divorce rate recently? I’m not so sure I’m down with those odds.
  4. Maiden — seeking Rescue by Handsome Prince. Wait a minute. Who said I needed to be rescued? Some good-looking dude with dimples and a great jaw-line is going to save me from pounding the keyboard. And I’ll spend the rest of my days raising heirs to the kingdom and swanning around the castle gardens while he rides off and has all the adventures?

Thanks, but no, thanks. I’m sure the castle gardens are lovely, but I think I’d rather face the dragons. Far more exciting than smelling the roses all day.

And, that’s how I ended up with Mr. Hyper-critic. Mr. Cigar-chomping Grumpy-voice who barks in my ear all day while I’m trying to write.

I’ve tried convincing my bureau writers’ rep he’s really only my inner critic, but she’s adamant he was licensed directly from the bureau. So, what’s a poor writer to do?

Excuse me — I hear my master’s voice… “Coming, Master.” 

Grouchy little — “Yes, master. Seven more chapters by the end of next week.” 

I’m calling the bureau again. There must be someone else they can send. “Yes, Master. I was just refilling my coffee mug. Yes, typing now, Master.” 

Where did I see that darned Aladin’s lamp? I know it’s around here somewhere. I have to find it before he starts demanding I get up at five a.m.

Writer-songwriter-poet, educator, with thirty plus years directing and designing for the theatre, Elle recently completed her second novel and is working on a series of short stories. Visit Ellie at ElleFredine.com.
Writer-songwriter-poet, educator, with thirty plus years directing and designing for the theatre, Elle recently completed her second novel and is working on a series of short stories. Visit Ellie at ElleFredine.com.

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