Where do one get inspiration to write from? A muse perhaps. A muse is one of the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, according to the Greek mythology. As I got my inspiration from the latest gossip about a certain celeb (no, I never read that kind of thing – I was forced to. Fingers crossed.) the Greek goddesses have updated their appearance quite a bit from the ancient marble friezes.
Inspiration comes from all those ordinary and not so ordinary encounters with daily life – an odd conversation or a person that sticks out from the throng in the underground station early one Monday morning. Other times inspiration is just hard work and a dead line that has to be met.
But if I had a muse I’d like to know if I’d have a choice in the matter, or if I’d be allocated one. I mean, one could end up with an inspiration one couldn’t cope with. Or the other way around. I wonder, if the writer and his/her inspiration hate each other can they ask for a “divorce” or counselling or something? Maybe I’ll opt for the hard work instead, as having a muse seems to be even more of an effort and I can ill afford any more distractions at the moment.
I’m sharing a short story I wrote for a competition a while ago. The longing for belonging was the theme, sort of. Short stories are hard to write; imagine if Tolkien had been told to write Lord of the Rings in 200 words. Actually, I’d like to see that done. In the meantime:
Canine socialising class
‘The dog’s name?’
A desperate search for a nametag. ‘Wait… Lilly!’ Wrong thing to do: Lycra woman marches off.
Big grin as dog Lilly overtakes Slim woman: ‘Your dog is great – what is it? Oh right, a poodle.’
‘No, I’ve just moved here. Great way of meeting people, right?’
Face muscles in agony from grinning. Am I overdoing it? Lycra woman is definitely avoiding me. Better luck with the book club tomorrow? Must read boring novel.
‘Sorry, did I hurt you? I did not see you. I know, your dog is big.’ Model woman teeters away, harrumphing.
She is laughing at me. Young. Keeps glancing at me. I wave tentatively. She waves back and hides a titter behind a hand. I haul in dog.
‘Oh hi, I’m new to this. It shows? My sister’s dog, really.’ Why am I telling her this? ‘Lisa? Great name for a dog!’ Not the dog, you idiot, the girl. Relax, she is lovely so do not ruin things. The novel is a brick.
‘No, I’d love a drink. The pub next door allows dogs.’ I checked on the way in. And ditch the novel.
The next morning the treatment started again. It was relentless. Astrid had received another punishment – she no longer cared why. Most probably there was no reason. That was how it worked. Forced to stand in front of a wall, hands on her head and immobile until her muscles were shaking, the hard rap from the wooden stick (held by one of her house mates) told her she was on her knees again. The rain was lashing down, blending with the tears and the dirt. Before she fell, one last time, onto the wet and muddy ground she suddenly knew why they were doing this to her and why Sam had become a completely different person: they were breaking her down. In the end she would be like them – an empty shell. In the end Jenkins would win and there was nothing she could do to prevent it.
brainwash: pressurise someone into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means. Oxford Dictionary of English
“The intent is to change a mind radically so that its owner becomes a living puppet – a human robot – without the atrocity being visible from the outside.” Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, Kathleen Taylor.