A week or so back, Emmy-nominated diaper soiler Chucky Wendig threw down the ol’ flash fiction gauntlet. Gimmie a thousand words on the topic of Ernest Shackleton’s scotch says he. So I did, and I did pretty damn quick. You’d have to check with Chucky on the exact turnaround, but I’m thinking I had this back to him in something like an hour, maybe two, but quick, even by dry cleaner standards. And, based on the comments, it wasn’t a crock of shit, either. It was actually pretty damn good.
And when something like that happens, when something clicks for you, you start having those Muse thoughts. You start thinking if only that sweet little bitch would tickle your writerly bits like that more often, why what an easy and profitable enterprise this would be – fame, fortune, international Emmy nominations, they’d be yours for the taking.
When you start having Muse lust like that, you gotta squash it dead like a bug. Because their ain’t no Muse, and on those occasions when you pull that rigid writer woody and the shit just flows out of you, it’s not because the Muse was doing the dance of a thousand tongues on your happy parts, it was all you, getting your own self off. Don’t share the credit – and don’t go looking for help from imaginary word harlots either.
So let’s go back to the instant case, shall we? If there ain’t no Muse, then how do you explain the almost instantaneous word ejaculate? Hmmmm?
Start with the subject matter. Ernest Fucking Shackleton. I’m not explaining the whole story to you punks, Google the man your own damn self if you aren’t familiar. But the tale of Shackleton and the Endurance and his incredible heroics in saving his crew when, in any rationale universe, the lot of them would be toast, it is the stuff of legend. And I did know the story, inside and out. I’m a Shackleton fan. Hell, I even knew about the booze.
So I wasn’t starting from scratch. And that’s the first nail in the coffin of the Muse as a writer-stroking harlot myth. If you’re a writer of any worth, then you’ve read. You’ve read a lot. Your head is a freakin’ flea market full of historical tidbits, plot line variations, character archetypes, geographical minutia – all of that shit swirling around in a nebulous story-forming soup. That churning caldron of awesome? That’s what occasionally shoves the vibrator of happy up your love channel and throws you over into storygasm.
And sure, it doesn’t always happen. I mean we all have our happy spots, and it turns out Ernie Shackleton was mine. If Chuckie had nominated, say, Coco Channel, then I would have had some work to do. And that’s what it usually is, work.
So that’s the danger peeps. When it really works, we’re too slow to take credit for it ourselves. We’re reluctant to say “Yeah, I wrote that all by my lonesome and it fuckin’ rocks.” We lay the blame off on the Muse, and we wish she’d stop by more often. And you know why we don’t take credit for our own successes? Because if we did, then we’d have to admit that we could ALWAYS be writing something fucking awesome if we just got up off our sluggish asses and did the work.