I woke up this morning to find Calliope sitting at my dining room table.
“If I’d known you were showing up today,” I said, “I would have worn my formal jammies.”
“Oh, please,” she said, gesturing to herself. The muse was sitting in my usual chair with her knees tucked up under her chin. She was dressed down today in sky blue sweatpants and a “Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems” t-shirt. “I’m not here on business,” she said, taking a sip out of a travel mug that said Might Be Wine? in a casual script.
I grunted and went to the kitchen to start my coffee. “Why are you here at all?” I asked. “I thought we agreed you don’t exist.”
“I don’t. Usually.”
I poked my head back into the dining room while the coffee maker burbled and snorted away. “There are exceptions?” I asked.
“As long as you’re writing a little bit every day, I’m not real.”
“And if I’m not writing?”
“If you’re not writing, eventually you do what every other self-indulgent writer does and start wondering wistfully where ‘your muse’ is. Which is when I show up.”
“So you only show up when you don’t show up.”
“Precisely. As long as you’re plucking words out of your skull and putting them on the page, you don’t need me. It’s all you.”
“And as soon as the writer’s block hits…”
“You all blame me (or the absence of me) and then – poof – there I am.”
“You’re a walking contradiction.”
“I exist in a quantum state.”
“That’s a big, modern concept for an ancient Greek.”
“I’m a goddess, jackass. I know more about how the universe works than most of your kind ever will.”
“Noted.” I poured a big mug of black coffee and then offered her some. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. I sat down across from her.
“But I knew all this already. Like I said, I thought we’d agreed you weren’t real.”
“We did. And you do know.”
“So, you haven’t written one of your random stories in weeks.”
“I am painfully aware of that, thank you.”
“And you’ve been ‘shoulding’ and shitting all over yourself because of it.”
“I set a goal and I didn’t meet it.”
“And a little cluster of brain cells in the darker reaches of your mind are wondering where I went.”
I looked down at the table and took a long sip of coffee.
“Tada!” she sang, giving me a wave of the jazz hands.
“You came to remind me the story was in me the whole time?”
“Nah. I don’t need to tell you what you already know. I’m here to give you a pep talk.”
“More of a threat,” she said.
Calliope’s eyes glowed with the fire of the gods.
“Get out of your head. Get over yourself. And WRITE!!”
My coffee boiled in its cup and my hair stood on end.
“Good talk,” I said, trying not to choke on my tongue.
“One of my better speeches.”
“I feel bad you had to come all this way to give it.”
“I was in the neighborhood,” she said, getting up to leave. “I have a daily appointment across the valley with George R. R. Martin.”