JUST DRIVE (Or How To Live With Your Muse)

06 Feb


In the background plays Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by The Police . . .

Computer charged? Check. Writing program updated? Check. Note pads, pens, warm body in chair? Check. Muse?  . . . Muse?  . . . Ah, hell. Where is the Muse?

Though I’ve tried before to (write it)

Of the feelings I have  . . . in my heart

Every time that I come near . . .

I just lose my nerve as I’ve done from the start”  

The day yawns ahead, hours to write words—new words, not revisions—that will finally forward my work-in-progress. Today, time is literally on my side, but ah, erm, the Muse isn’t.

Okay, well, fine. Shoulders back, deep breath. I can do this. I reposition my keyboard, swipe an imaginary speck from the monitor, refrain from checking emails, then straighten my collection of note pads and pick up my pen. Clickit-clickit-clickit. I fidget with the plunger, watching the ballpoint tip thrust and retract, then sigh and write a shopping list for dinner.

There. I draw a box around the list to remind me this is a real life note. Burdens are lifted. Time to push through. The mind is now open (for business). I’m ready! I look to my screen; the curser winks from the blank page. I frown. Is it . . . taunting me? I write three sentences and reject them all. I rewrite the same first sentence and spin it five different ways. Blech. 2 hours wasted. I move the keyboard aside and bang my head on the desk. I can’t do this alone. I need my muse.

But my silent fears have gripped 

Long before I reach the (pen)

Long before my tongue has tripped me

Must I always be alone?

For most writers, summoning the muse on demand is an act of futility. Mine manifests in several versions, my favorite is an elusive purple dragon named Zebedee. Zeb (for short) is a willful, easily distracted, adventure seeking, magical being. On his spiny back, my imagination soars.

And today he’s a no show. #LazyMuse. I grab my shopping list and head for the car. May as well get something productive done. As I travel across town, my consciousness is occupied with the drive, a mundane task I settle into with ease. The road rolls out before me, the traffic hums, and my tangled spirit unwinds. I sigh, exhaling the morning’s angst, then inhale the sugary/tart scent of grape Koolaid that is Zeb’s particular aroma.

“I like the way the snow drifts,” he says from the passenger seat. His eyes whirl like multi-colored pinwheels on a summer day. “You know that scene you were working on? I think you should try this . . .” he says, then spouts the most perfect opening line—and that is the beauty of the muse. Because even though we think they aren’t listening while we struggle for solutions or perfect phrasing, they are. (See Lara Schiffbauer’s incredible post on How Your Intuition Works.)

Every little thing (Zeb) does is magic. 

The intuition process is magic—even if it isn’t always timely. The muse has absolutely no appropriate sense of time.

“Now? You show up now when I can’t write anything down?” I pray for a red light and begin multi-tasking—one hand grips the wheel while the other gropes blindly in my purse. His golden words become a mantra on my tongue, and my inner voice frets—Don’t forget. Don’t forget. Where the hell is that mini-recorder? Don’t forget. 

“It was too crowded before,” Zeb complains. “When you weren’t thinking about house chores, you were trying to tell me what to do again. You know I don’t like that. Besides, I always enjoy an open road.” He dug in the center console between the seats. “I’m hungry. You got any cat treats in here?”

“Um, a half-eaten a protein bar—maybe.” I stop at a red light, locate my recorder, and begin chattering at it like a cop on a blown stake-out.

Zeb’s spikes droop. The magic of sudden inspiration slips sideways. I hit pause and set the recorder down. You never, never upset/ignore the muse, or they go away—besides I like Zeb.

“Fine. I’ll take you for . . .” I look around for ideas for which to bribe a petulant dragon.

“Culver’s flavor of the day is Kit Kat Swirl,” he offers, perking up.

An inelegant snort escapes my lips. “Forget it—that was a disaster last time. You melted all of the ice cream in the store, and the little kids cried until you gave them rides.” Who can be sad over ice cream when you’re sailing on the back of a dragon?

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Zeb began drooping again. “I’ll buy you popcorn kernels at the store,”  I decide, and resolve to keep cat treats in the car—though, watching him eat the kernels is fun. They pop on his tongue and he giggles (a dragon’s palate is very ticklish.) Have you ever heard a muse giggle? Close your eyes and imagine the chiming of silvered raindrops on a crystal xylophone. My muse’s laughter evokes the music in my soul. Want to find the coveted writing zone? Have fun with your muse.

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Zeb counter-negotiates. “Can I roll the window down?”

“It’s seven degrees!”

He opens his mouth and huffs. The car becomes an instant sauna.

Every little thing (Zeb) does

“Fine! Fine. But you are going to give me some good stuff to write after all this.”

“Of course. All you had to do was ask,” he replies.

The car behind us honks and I jump. The light is green and the other lanes have already begun moving ahead. Zeb chuckles and I give him a disapproving glare.

“Just drive,” he snickers, and sticks his head into the wind. I focus on the road.

Open road. Open mind. I am at peace and, with that, ideas flow like an open tap. I sneak a look at Zeb, his eyes are half-mast, his long, pink tongue dangles from his wide, crocodilian smile. My muse is happiest with simple pleasures. And if he’s happy, so am I.

Every little thing, every little thing,

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Magic, magic, magic, magic, magic

What are the roadblocks to your creativity? How do you overcome them?

A big thank you to the wonderful writers here at Hugs & Chocolate! The opportunity to guest post while Heather works on her upcoming release for Pretty Dark Nothing is both an honor and a privilege. I love all of your wisdom and look forward to getting to know you better. <hugs> D.


D. D. Falvo resides in the Midwestern United States, inhabiting a 100-year-old house with her best friend/husband, two daughters, a sassy cat, and the ghost of a stubborn Irish setter. She was captured and released by faeries as child and is still seeking a way back. Currently, she spends her time writing the fantasy epic StarDust and adopting stray dragons. You can connect with D through TwitterFacebook, Goodreads, or on her website.

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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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44 responses to “JUST DRIVE (Or How To Live With Your Muse)

  1. Vaughn Roycroft

    February 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Every little thing she writes is magic. Love the song, but it’s so appropriate, D! Zeb is a lot more fun than my muse. No popcorn or giving kids rides over here. I guess I’d better not talk about her behind her back. “Open road, open mind.” Love that, too!

    Staying open is the key. I know we have to ‘make time’ to write, but it doesn’t always work out as planned. I think it works out as it’s destined, though. I vow to start listening for my muse’s laughter, D. Thanks for working your magic here today, my friend! Makes me feel like writing (or driving).

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      I would love to learn more about your muse, Vaughn–especially since she inspires such powerful scenes and fascinating characters. I agree our super-consciouses are mercurial in nature; it’s always best to treat them gently, and with respect. (Did you catch the semi-colon? And I used one in the blog post, too–just for you.) 😀 Let me know what her laugh sounds like.

      Thank you for the magic of your support and leading the comments. Zeb says you are a first-rate friend, and with that I will always agree.

  2. Sevigne

    February 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Lovely post, Denise. Full of laughter, and love, and magic, just like you.

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Your lovely comment brings a grin, from ear-to-ear. Thank you, Sevigne, for your kind words and friendship. Your thoughtful musings always inspire me.

  3. Tonia Marie Houston

    February 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    I am grinning and dancing like a fool. My son stares at me, not completely stunned, then joins in. We like to dance, and Police is one of Mommy’s favorites. D, brilliant work and a huge hug and thanks. You’ve made my day and I can’t wait to get new words in. ❤

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      (Pictures Snoopy beagle-dancing with Woodstock) You made me laugh, Tonia. I love the image of you cavorting with your son– it evokes the happy in my soul (and that makes Zeb laugh, too). You always write brilliant words–so go get ’em. Hugs right back and thank you, thank you for making me feel welcome. ❤

  4. Tracy Rohlfing (@ScribblngScarlt)

    February 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Great Post 🙂 I think my muse prefers going for ride over sitting in my house as well 🙂

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Haha! Just as long as they don’t steer the car, right? There’s nothing like a change of view to open the power of the mind. It’s so nice to meet you, Tracy. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 😀

  5. Kali Falvo

    February 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I had no idea intangible muses could be so interactive! And though I write nothing creative in my life (legal papers are about as dry as you can get) I love the idea of having a partner that takes the whole literary journey with you. One that understands the story from an intimate point of view but that also serves to project those thoughts and feelings that come from the locked, cobweb or forgotten areas of your mind. Zeb is an adorable funny key, that has most definitely set those corners alight and encouraged many wonderful ideas (as I well know from reading your manuscripts thus far). In fact, I would like to steal your muse. Zeb is great 🙂 Love you!

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      I love the idea of Zeb as a key, because he truly does unlock many secrets for me. Lawyers always make the best writers, and with your imagination one day you will surely create a story of your own that will be anything but dry. The secret to writing is to be an avid reader (lover of stories) and you have great instincts in that department. 😀 Thank you for taking a break from Bar studying and coming by. xxx’s (You can hang out with Zeb anytime, I happen to know he’s very fond of you, as am I. Love u 2.)

  6. Nicole L. Bates

    February 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Fantastic post D.D.! It’s so fun to see you here and learn more about you, and your muse. 🙂 The roadblocks to my creativity are usually the everyday distractions of life. I’m learning to carve precious moments from the days. Funny enough, I have to drive A LOT for my job and I often spend that time dreaming or plotting stories.

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Hi, Nicole! Haha! We are kindred plotters, then. Cars are great for putting babies to sleep and coaxing out the inner muse–who knew? Thank heavens for the mini-recorders b/c if I had to pull over roadside and scribble, I would never get anywhere fast.

      You’re right. Our daily routines pull us in so many directions that, without a concerted effort, our stories would never get written. I’m so glad you make the time because you have wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for coming by. 😀

  7. Jamie Raintree

    February 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    This cracked me up! And you have such a great voice! I look forward to reading more from you. Thanks for being here today!

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks, Jamie. It such an honor to be here–you have an amazing blog and writing team, and your dashboard is uber cool. I’m going to have to speak to my web gal re: love how you track stats (I’m WP too). I’m looking forward to reading your Song for Butterflies. The title is lovely. 😀

      • Jamie Raintree

        February 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm

        Yes, love WordPress! I’m a web designer too and I use nothing else. Such great tools.

        Thanks! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  8. Lara Schiffbauer

    February 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I love it!! Your talent always knocks my socks off–into the next room, even! You cracked me up, and made me wonder what my muse looks like. I wish it looks like a dragon. Wonderful job, you wonderful writer!

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Lara, my life-saver! Thank you so much for the tweaks last night that helped Zeb put his best scaly foot forward (and gave me a goodnight’s sleep). I am so, so fortunate to be blessed with an amazing critique partner like you. Talk about talent–Finding Meara rocks. And if your muse resembles a creature, I’m wondering if it’s a Fire cat? Rawr! Or a star. Only you would know. Take him/her for a drive (sans family) and find out. ❤

  9. Normandie

    February 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Ain’t you just so cute?! (You–or maybe Zeb.)

    A Zeb-esque to borrow? Flashing my fingers, tossing off a grin, hoping Zeb’s less firey friend will slide in next to me and stop for a treat or two. I do have chocolate.

    Hugs to you (not Zeb, who might spew flames),

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Oh, look at you enticing my Zeb–he’s pushover for shiny things and beguiling grins! He says he wants to go sailing– and he’ll even heat the water for tea. Good thing you’ll have an ocean at hand. Overall he does very well with the, uh (you know), but when he sneezes . . . well, that’s another story.

      Thank you so much for coming to visit. You are a dear friend. ❤

  10. sugaropal

    February 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Great post Denise! I love Zeb and the image of the two of you cruising down the road. And so true that muses strike at the least convenient moments. But still we are grateful.

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Hi, Rhiann! Well they certainly keep us on our toes, don’t they? But life without him would be so dull–so, yes, I am very grateful. Sending best wishes to Opal and her animated hair for their upcoming journey. Hugs to you.

  11. Amy Freeman

    February 6, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Love it, D D!! I also love your bio. :0) SO clever. I lived in Wisconsin for a while. What part of the mid-west are you in?

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Hi, Amy! It’s so nice to meet you, and thanks. Your kind words are much appreciated. 😀 I live about 18 mi. west of Chicago. WI is a lovely state. Where are you now? Loved your inspiring guest post.

  12. Bernadette Phipps-Lincke

    February 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Love your Muse. And I think you should write a children’s story about Zeb and the ice cream store.

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      ❤ Bernadette! Zeb is actually from Magic Eyes, and I had always wanted to expand that story. Love your advice! Adding the ice cream scene would be loads of fun.

  13. Cathy Yardley

    February 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    This is wonderful! Love Zeb! Must arrange a play date of Muses sometime. 😉

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks so much for visiting, Cathy. ❤ It's a deal. (Has visions of Slim and Zeb causing mayhem in Seattle) 😛

  14. Dee Martin

    February 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I loved this personalization of Muse- I have never thought about the “who” or “what of muse. I may have to take a ride myself…thank you for this – it made me smile.

    • ddfalvo

      February 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Dee! Aw, thanks. Zeb loves compliments–he gets all puffed up and preens. The idea of you taking that ride makes me smile. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  15. jwthibodeau

    February 6, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Loved this post, Denise! I could *hear* you! I loved learning about Zeb, and about your driving. I think it’s amazing how many of us have been listening to our subconscious lately. I find you so inspiring!

    • ddfalvo

      February 7, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Hi Jeanine! Aw, thanks so much. 😀 It’s true, “listening to our subconscious” has been a prevailing theme– there’s no doubt that’s why I felt compelled to add my 2 cents in. You always inspire me with the charming photos you post of your local area–especially the jellies. They make me laugh. I have to find a way of working something like them into my story! Lol.

  16. Connie Cockrell

    February 7, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Lovely. My muse shows up while I write. She likes to know I’m serious.

    • ddfalvo

      February 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Thanks, Connie. So nice to meet you. You are very fortunate to have such a cooperative muse. 😀 And it’s true, respect and appreciation for their talent is the best way to stay on reliable footing.

  17. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude)

    February 7, 2013 at 9:02 am

    When my daughter was two, she had nightmares. I conjured an invisible purple dragon who floated over her shoulder and was her guardian. His hugely imaginative name? Puff. 😉 Point is, your Zeb gets around. Handy kind of guy.

    Lovely post, D, and so true.

    • ddfalvo

      February 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Aw, “Puff the protector” conjures up warm fuzzies, Jan! Your daughter is very blessed to have a loving mom with a great imagination–no doubt ol’ Puff will live on to hang with the grandkids one day. Zeb’s all “puffed up” now, thinking he’s some kind of super hero–and sends dragon kisses. (too bad for you, his breath is atrocious)

      Thank you. hugs from me.

  18. Bernadette Phipps-Lincke

    February 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Although Jan and DD if I recall correctly “Puff” the magic dragon had a whole diff connotation to a whole generation of magic seekers. 🙂

    • ddfalvo

      February 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      LOL, Bernadette! Indeed.

  19. kathils

    February 8, 2013 at 4:47 am

    What an awesome post. I think Zeb needs to talk with my muse. I’m pretty sure she is attention deficit — very distractable sort is my muse. *bright shiny, bright shiny*

    • ddfalvo

      February 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Hello K.L. 😀
      LOL–The dilemma of muse maintenance! The pair of them would only get into trouble, Zeb has focus issues too. But yours is no slacker! Congrats on your 2 published books. I’m going to look ’em up.

  20. Angelina LaPonte

    February 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    This is angelina and the drawer of Zeb, After reading this I have an undersiable urge to make a short comic out of one of Zebs comments.

    • ddfalvo

      February 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Hello Sweetheart! I came this close (imagine thumb and forefinger positioned with a minuscule space between) to putting up the amazing pic you drew of Zeb on this post. The only reason I didn’t is because his debut should really be on his own website–soon, soon! (Perhaps by early summer) In the meantime, I love that you came to visit–and if you should happen to follow that urge (which is your own muse at work) I would love to see your comic. 😀

  21. Bethany

    February 10, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    D, isn’t it the truth? My inspiration hit during dinner tonight. With a table full of boys, a sink full of dishes, baths to be administered, stories to be read, puzzles to be completed, kisses to be given. When the muse appears while I’m driving, I use the voice memo on my iphone and dictate notes to myself! Howard Stern in the background if the kids are not…

    • ddfalvo

      February 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Your muse rocks, Bethany–so that diet of boys and bedlam and Howard Stern is exactly the right magical combination. What would we do without our iPhones? I just need to learn to keep it within reach. Thanks for finding me over here, my friend–I’ll be looking forward to that newly inspired post. 😀


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