I kept her locked up in my head. A version of her that I conjured up with my imagination. She would be my muse. A person whose only task was to inspire me by her mere presence. To irrigate my fertile mind with creative juices.
She did it uncomplainingly. I suppose she had no reason to complain. My head was well equipped for inhabitation. A lot of characters lived there. And they’ve seen muses come and go. I think they have always had a weird relationship with my muses. It’s hard to behave normally with someone or something that plays such a huge part in your lives, I suppose. The characters knew that. Their life stories depended on my muses. If my muse was being moody or temperamental, they remained in stasis, unwritten and forgotten.
Many a time, my muse would leave me, in search of better opportunities. “You don’t write often enough,” she would say and walk out of my head. I wonder where they would go. Whose heads did they live in now? Could one of them have inspired a major work of literature? I would have been proud. It wouldn’t be my work but I would like to think that I played a small part in its creation.
Was that why a writer’s work would sometimes bear a strong resemblance to another’s work, I wondered. Did they share muses? Was a writer’s stylistic flourishes and his characters’ idiosyncrasies encoded in the muse’s DNA? Can muses travel between minds? I fear I approach the realm of the metaphysical. I cannot answer these questions.
I remember a time when I thought I shared a muse with another writer. That was the only plausible explanation. How could someone be so in sync with me? So similar in thought and expression. If the external factors were the same, every variable a perfect copy of each other, she and I would weave the exact same tale. It was so inexplicable that it bordered on the supernatural. Can two writers be so connected they would write the same story every single time in a perfect vacuum devoid of external influences? They had to share the same muse. Or did muses have soulmates of their own? Was I letting my head out to a muse who had a soul mate living in someone else’s head? And I would never meet this other person, even though I wrote and felt the same things she did. Tragic.
I am a failed writer. My muses have always worked on minimum wage. They get paid in fame, I suppose. Because fame goes to the head. Money goes to my body. I haven’t got money or fame. The little attention I get from my stories goes to keeping my muse happy. Fortunately, she isn’t a high maintenance gal. There are lean times though. When no one reads my stories. Or remembers them. And my muse changes. From a feisty woman bursting with ideas to a disaffected slacker. I take care to keep my stories well read. I might not make money out of them but I could get a laugh out of someone. People like it when you narrate stories to them when they don’t expect it. It interrupts the monotonous nature of the mundane segments of everyone’s lives, I suppose. They like it when the writer tells them a story as they wait for a bus. Or when he is struggling to keep with up your brisk pace as you walk to someplace as he tells the story, waving his hands about and talking, seemingly oblivious to the people around him. He does not care because it keeps his muse happy. She is clapping her hands gleefully as her writer tells his story. She can see that the lady he is talking to loves every word. But he does not see it. He is either in a trance, his head full of characters who are on stage acting out their roles as he narrates the story, or he does not understand women well. She does not know which one it is.
My muse loves romance. She demands to be wooed, more than I have ever wooed a woman in my life. No line, no matter how cheesy it is, fails to work on her. You are my Goddess in a Godless world, I tell her. How could I live without you?