There’s this little imp in my head who doesn’t want me to write.
Artists and scribes through the ages have celebrated the wonders of the Muses, those supernatural beings who bring us inspiration and cause us to create things that are clearly too brilliant to have come from us alone. But there’s a darker being that is never discussed, at least directly. And that is an imp that I have come to know as the Anti-Muse.
Last summer I had a window of opportunity to devote a large amount of time to my current novel, and I challenged myself to finally finishing the first draft. I could have done it. I know I could have – I’ve done marathon writing sessions in the past. But for some reason my Anti-Muse was particularly strong, so much so – and so obviously so – I started keeping track of all the things this Anti-Muse tried to do to sabotage my writing efforts.
Below, directly from my scribbled notes, is the internal dialog I had with this little demon. And so, writing along … or simply staring at the blank white page … these voices would pop into my head, followed by my conscious response.
“You’re hungry!” Clearly, I am not hungry. I’m not even thirsty. “Yes you are! You’re hungry!” No I am not.
“You’re sleepy!” Not really. “Yes you are. Why don’t you go take a nap?” No.
“You have to check email!” No, I don’t.
“You have to make a list of what I’m doing to sabotage you!” I seem to have given in to this one.
“You’re cold!” I put on a robe.
“You’re hot!” I take the robe back off. Now I’m cold again.
“You have to wash dishes!” There’s only two dishes in the sink and they can wait.
“You’re horny!” So what’s new? I’m always horny. I’m a guy.
“Waa! I don’t want to work on this! Let’s go take a walk – it’s beautiful outside.” No.
“You have to get up and go do something.” Like what? “I don’t know, but SOMETHING.” No.
“You deserve a break. Play Mine Sweeper.” No.
“Let’s surf the Internet!” [My response to that was to turn my cable modem off.]
“What the heck is that banging noise? Go to the window and check!” It’s not important.
“You need to stop and calculate how many words you must write per day in order to achieve your goal.” No, I do not, I just need to write the freaking words!
“Ha ha! I’ve made you write more on this list than you have so far on your manuscript!” Dammit.
“You need to go to garage sales and find a more comfortable desk chair. It would help your writing.” No, it would help my writing if you would LET ME FREAKING WRITE!
“You’re REALLY sleepy.” Damn, I am. Keep going through.
“You’re horny, thirsty, sleepy, hungry, and you need a shower! AND you need to wash dishes!” I give up. I’ll take a little break.
“You are SLEEPY!” Wow, I really am. To the point of it being useless sitting here fighting it.
[After the nap, the Anti-Muse wins again, guiding me to another light meal – after which I absent-mindedly surf the Internet for 45 minutes. Then after writing for only 15 minutes I’m sleepy again.]
“Hey, why don’t we watch YouTube?” Okay, whatever, let’s watch YouTube for an hour.
“You’re sleepy again.” True, I’ve only written for 15 minutes and now I’m falling asleep in front of the keyboard.
“You need to go kiss your girlfriend!” I agree with this one. I go give my girlfriend lots of kisses.
“You need to go take pictures of the sunset!” No.
“You really need to reorganize all ten-million files in your ‘My Documents’ folder!” [I fell for this one before I realized what I was doing.]
“You must reorganize all your MP3 files.” Ugh.
It was after this that I realized keeping the list, in itself, had turned into a major distraction. But the Anti-Muse continued this campaign unabated for three straight weeks, and I did not reach my goal.
The first draft of the manuscript is still unfinished.
Is this just me? Or do you have an Anti-Muse too?