Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Retriever and the Muse

Sometimes I’m a dumb retriever.
I don’t mean to be, but sometimes – and it’s always when I’m writing – I behave exactly like a slow-witted retriever*.  Have you ever thrown a ball for a retriever? They love it, right? They gallop down the hall in pursuit, skid to a stop, and snatch it from the air with a velvet mouth. Then depending on who trained whom, they bring the ball back. They make happy noises in the back of their throat as you wind up to throw again.
Let’s pretend you’re the retriever’s human. That day, for no particular reason, you feel mischievous. You take the ball, assume the position, and palm it, instead of tossing it.
The dumb retriever goes thundering down the hall in pursuit of the non-existent ball. His head snaps back and forth as he tries to figure out where it went. He’s practically hyperventilating as he scent-searches for it. Finally, he looks back to you, and there you are, ball in hand, grinning, thinking how cool it’s to be human.
When it comes to writing, let’s say I’m the retriever. My muse is the ball tosser.
There are days my muse pitches the ball. I run after it, fingers flying over the keys. It’s a supremely happy time for both of us. We’re one as we play the game.
Then, sometimes she doesn’t feel like playing. Fun time is over, but I don’t know it. She smiles at me, pretends to throw the ball and then takes off for the kitchen. I run down the hall, trailing words behind me in a blur, but once I’m there, I can’t find the damn ball. It was supposed to be there, at the end of the hall, but it isn’t. There is no ball. There are just words streaming behind me, leading to nothing, except that long dispirited trot back to my master.
Today I was a retriever. I ran down a story line, paying no attention to the chuckles behind me, and found there was no ball at the end of the hall.
Merry Christmas, and to all a Good Year.

*this rant was not approved by the League of Retrievers.

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