Friday, January 14, 2011


She waited at our table in the corner when I entered Starbucks. I bought a grande latte with hazelnut syrup and slid into the seat across from my first reader. I bit my lips as she pulled my manuscript from her pack. Her red marker had bled through the pages staining parts with thick dots. It didn't look good.

"How's the job going?" I asked. It was hard to contemplate an office job when my work had never consisted of more than typing up stories on my studio's futon. The ideas were hard, but that wasn't office work.

"Same old, same old," she said. Her face twisted into a frown as she blew a strand of hair out of her face. "Actually, it's worse after the holidays. All the work backs up."

"I know."

The look in her eye revealed she didn't believe my words. "But enough of that." She pushed my manuscript across the table.

"How was it?" I bit my lip.

"Better." She stretched the words out too long. It wasn't a good sign. "Your ideas are really improving. The originality blew me away. Your New Year's resolution is really working for ya."


"The execution needs work. Here let me show ya." She flipped through the manuscript pages, but I didn't hear her. I should've had a perfect story. There shouldn't have been any flaws in my technique. "What surprises me the most, is how much your voice has matured. You make each of these stories come across so vividly and in such a different way. It's almost as if different people wrote them."

I rolled my eyes. Of course, different people had written them. I never could get more than one story out of a muse. The ripping and shredding as the idea was born left the muse in tatters. Unfortunately, my basement was filling up with the authors who seemed to die once their muse was gone.

"As I said, the stories have improved. You just need to revise."

A response to Deb Markanton's Flashy Fiction prompt, "What Do You Know about That?": "I see that New Year's resolution is really working for ya!"


  1. That's certainly one way to, uh, steal a muse? That basement must reek. Funny, but also eww.

  2. I liked the tension here, the nasty secrets behind the stories.

  3. Oh that's creepy.

    Typo though - should be "once their muse was gone".

  4. @Valerie, I'm hoping that basement is freezing temperatures.

    @Tony, I'm glad the tension works until the nasty secret is exposed.

    @Icy, thanks. I've fixed that typo now; the horrors of voice dictation and then eyes that see what I expect to be there and not what is there.

  5. I was wondering if this was fiction or autobiography until that last part. Good twist hehe.

  6. Aidan, I just hope this character doesn't get to hear of all the available muses on #FridayFlash, he just might start to get greedy.

  7. Poor muses. Not only do they die, but their work goes unedited. Every story deserves a good nanny.

  8. @TS, I'm glad that it eventually became obvious that this was --autobiography--, I mean fiction.

    @Steve, that would be scary, I hope he gets frustrated at all the red ink.

    @John, LOL, I'm going to put on my nanny hat now and work on mopping up my short-story.

  9. Poor muses. I didn't see that coming at all, and I suspect neither did they!

    Well 'executed' story...
    I'm sorry, but I can't help myself.

    Wonderfully written with a killer ending!
    I swear, that one started off without a joke...

    Seriously, I *loved* this!

  10. That's one way to get the muses working. Also how to get them to not. Good story!

  11. @ganymeder: You slay me ;) Had to keep the puns running; liked the response.

    @Eric, my muse puts up with a lot from me, but I'm never tearing a story from her.

  12. Nice twist. Made me think of Stephen King's muse. King says he's a basement dweller. Your protagonist might have had some trouble with him. Great story.

  13. Phew! Writing is a gory business eh? Muses attached to one's authors like daemons (Pullman)- very interesting twist.

  14. @Jamie, lol, thanks!

    @Brinda, some days I certainly believe there is a fair amount of mental gore involved in the process.