It was the early 1980s and I was pouting. I was working as a pen and ink draftsman. There were no fancy computers to make maps back then. I can say with some certainly, that I was the best Leroy man in Northern Nevada. (If you know what that means, you’re getting old.) We’d just bought a new computer, and this one was pretty high tech. It came with two floppy disk drives. (It didn’t have a hard drive.)
My boss told me I’d have to use the computer to add all the sworn statements and jurats to my maps. They were printed on a sticker, and were about as soulless as they sound.
That’s when she approached me for the first time. She had poofy brunette hair, spandex pants, and roller-skates. They were the old kind, before they put the wheels inline. Her body was curvy in all the right places, but solid, like an athlete.
“Why don’t you just slip in after hours and learn to use the word processor?” she asked.
“Who are you, and how do you know about our computer?” I asked back.
“I’m Lorelei, and I’m a muse. These things are going to change the world, and you’d better get used to them.”
“I don’t recall any muse named Lorelei.”
“The first muses were named thousands of years ago. Did you ever read stories where the Gods kept their pants zipped?”
“I see where you’re going. What do you think I should do?”
She talked me into trying, nothing more. I went back to the office in the evenings and wrote Star Trek fan fiction for months. I never finished a story. The word processor became just another tool, and I moved on. I printed my work, on tractor paper, and lost it when I moved.
We lost touch. Maps became soulless things drawn entirely by computer. I might as well have been the village blacksmith for all the value my training had.
Decades later I got my first iPad. It was winter, and I’d just conquered the internet. I swear, there wasn’t one thing I hadn’t seen or done online. It was too cold to go fishing, and times were so bad I couldn’t afford the fuel anyway.
“Why don’t you try it again?” I heard over my shoulder.
I snapped around, and there she was. It was five AM, and she was in my living room. She had on a pair of Sponge Bob pajamas and brought fresh coffee. Her hair was just as long, but the style was different.
“I’ve held down several careers since I saw you. Why come back now?” I asked.
“It hasn’t been that long to me. You have imagination, and you really need to try again. It looks like you have time available too.”
“What am I even supposed to do?”
“Like I told you before, just try. You have a pretty powerful device there. These things have really improved since the last time.”
I started writing. My first complete novel was written using the iPad and two thumbs, seriously.
She stopped in from time to time and helped me get unstuck. Sometimes she rode in the car during my commute. She encouraged me to start reading everything I could about writing. Bulletin boards, articles, and blogs flashed before my eyes. There were even a few books she told me to get.
My first story sucked, but I enjoyed it. I wrote another one, using the same characters. Lorelei wasn’t intrusive, she just let me write whatever I wanted. She encouraged me to drop whole chapters, and change thoughts days after writing them down. I had two steampunk stories finished, and she never said a disparaging word. I even went so far as to ask for a bluetooth keyboard for Christmas.
We were driving home from work one day and she said, “You need an office.”
“I can’t afford a space on my income,” I said. “You know that.”
“Not that kind of office, Slick. This kind exists in your mind. It’s the next step in your education. You go there, and I’ll send characters for you to interview. Check them out, when one feels right you write down a few lines and see where it goes.”
“So are you telling me it’s time to give up my steampunk world and those characters?”
“Yup. There are more places for you to visit and stories for you to tell.”
“Could it be a cabin in the woods somewhere, instead of a cubicle of some kind?”
“Sure, it’s anything you want it to be. Your steampunk characters can come visit. In fact, all your characters can stop by for coffee or something. It’s just time to think a little bigger.”
The writing cabin became a regular thing. I wrote four more novels, and they got better. Some of my characters visit on occasion, and Lisa, from Wild Concept, sticks around and works as my secretary. She’s a robot whose story will go up on Amazon someday soon.
Lorelei visits all the time now. It seems like the more I write, the more she visits. She’s never judgmental, and always encourages me to try a bit harder. Now she wants me to put some of my stories online. Whether they sell or not, isn’t the important thing. This is a growth phase for me. I trust Lorelei enough to try.
I really hope they sell, and I’m going to put some of them out for the world to see. I know I’ll learn something, and some of you might enjoy the ride.
Let’s get these comments going. Does anyone else have a muse? I know Lorelei has sisters, her sister Lucille has her name written across a guitar neck.