Thursday, July 11, 2013
Who's Your Muse?
This will come as no surprise to anyone: I watch TV more than I write. With 80 channels at my remote-tapping fingertips, it’s easy to find something—anything—more fun than sweating blood at a keyboard. TV makes a more entertaining distraction than doing the laundry or yard work.
I have a fondness for reality shows like Bar Rescue, Restaurant Impossible and Tabatha Takes Over. Business owners with their livelihoods circling the toilet call in a snarky, abrasive expert to help drag them back into solvency. Supposedly it works, provided the hapless owners do what their TV-personality advisors tell them.
That’s what I need. Some expert to kick me in the ass and keep me pounding the keys. Maybe even offer useful marketing advice. Since there aren’t any TV shows for us lazy writers, I guess I’ll have to settle for a muse.
But not just any muse. A chirpy Glinda isn’t going to help me. Like I said, I’m lazy. I’ve been known to clean the toilet rather than write, that’s how bad it gets. I don’t need a cheerleader; I need a drill sergeant. A muse with the discipline I don’t have, to get my butt in the seat and keep it there long enough to produce something.
Maybe someone like Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue or Tabatha Coffey (Tabatha Takes Over) could help. Both understand where a business’s problems lie, and usually it’s with the owner. I don’t write half as much or as often as I should in order to make a living. Watching TV, remember? If I could get them to get me to step up to the plate, I’d produce more and have more to send out to market. Not necessarily sell. That will depend on the quality. On the other hand, nothing sells if you don’t write it first. Jon could yell or Tabatha could scold me into making the effort.
But first we’d have to get past the cleanliness thing. Both zero in on the cleanliness of the bar/kitchen/beauty salon first thing off the bat. I barely vacuum once a month or so. Mostly “or so.” Writing would have to go by the wayside until after I’d scrubbed the linoleum. I can divert my energies into housework on my own; I don’t need them for that. Plus Jon would be criticizing my kitchen and Tabatha would criticize my hair. Okay, they’re out.
Drill sergeant who’d make me produce without cleaning first? Got it! Gordon Ramsay. The man wants it done and done now and done right, no excuses. Plus he’s customer-focused, and a writer should be reader-focused. We’re here to feed the customer, either their stomach or their minds. Plus Ramsay has an accent, which seems to be a requirement on these makeover shows.
There’d be no goofing off with him riding my back, that’s for sure. “Bloody hell! What the fuck is this? You call this a short story? It’s fucking raw! The characters aren’t even developed! Where’s the plot? Oh, piss off. Shut it down! Get out! Fucking useless.” Um, okay, maybe not.
Let’s try somebody with a lower decibel level. How about Dr. Phil? He could not only provide character insight and motivation, he could help me figure out why I procrastinate and get me over that part of it. Provided I could put up with the interruptions and occasional judgmental attitude. Not to mention the endless catch phrases. “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. You have to own up to the fact this story is a piece of crap.” “Let me put verbs in my sentences. You need better verbs in your sentences.” Odds are good he’d use me to pimp his own book rather than help me pimp mine. That’s it, Phil, you’re off the list.
Looks like I’m back to my first choice: Stephen King. It’s not because he’s a phenomenal storyteller or that he has sales we’d all kill for. It’s his determination. There was point in Stevie’s life when drink and drugs reigned supreme. He was so wasted he says he doesn’t even remember writing Cujo. But he did write it. Even wasted, he kept writing. Through booze, pills, a near-fatal run-in with a van, through back pain so bad he had to lie flat on the floor, he kept writing. In fact, he wrote one of his books while lying flat on the floor. And we’re talking a Stevie-length book here, 500 pages or so.
He’s not the world’s greatest writer, just the most persistent. He writes no matter what. That’s the muse I need perched on my shoulder. If I can tap into that, the single-minded need to commit words to paper and the joy that only writing can provide, any other problems I have are sure to take care of themselves.
Once that’s done, I’ll move on to editing. A muse from Extreme Makeover, maybe?