Fake Muse by Marcel Neumann



The rain started the moment I stepped outside my front door. As I walked down the driveway, each droplet hit me like a lead weight. The wind began to move the rain in different directions, and at times I needed to stop to catch my balance due to a misstep in a pothole. My mind filled with thoughts of a man’s last walk to his death. The death of my career was fast approaching with each step down my driveway.

 Three months ago I submitted my final manuscript. The decision to give up the dream for a more substantial means of income proved to be an easy one. Perhaps the lack of food in my refrigerator and the numerous overdue notices might have contributed to that decision.  Either way, I was going to stick with it.I gave the process a chance to work. Sitting at my desk with my fingers on the keyboard, I would invite my muse to join me. Assuming she must be off helping another writer fulfill her dreams, I would respond to emails and check out the latest Youtube video on some cat shenanigans.

Onward I trekked down to my mailbox to retrieve my final rejection notice. My previous submission about the giant friendly sea turtle made me smile and made the editor I submitted it to send me a letter insisting I find a professional writing class and study hard.  I have heard so many times in my writing circles how I needed to get in touch with my muse. At first, I found it somewhat comical. Not only did I need the perfect laptop with the best writing application money could buy, but I also had to invite some mythical angelic force to come to sit on my shoulder and whisper to me the next award-winning novel.

Fake Muse/Page 2

Countless times I have walked down my fifty foot gravel drive to retrieve the mail. Bills and store fliers were my only reward for taking the journey. To justify it all, I reminded myself I needed the exercise. The reason now for the trip was only my need to speed up the inevitable. The last publisher’s rejection letter had been short and to the point.  It might have as well just read “Thanks but no thanks.”

 Halfway down I heard a scuffling noise in the bushes.  Dismissing it as simply a raccoon seeking food, I continued walking and reflecting on my writing career. There had been some successes. The contest I won in my younger days gave me the confidence to seek out a career in writing. Small monetary compensations for several short stories shot a little extra into my bank account. What provided a major stepping stone I recall had been the poetry anthology my agent suggested I have published. I credit her for pushing me to get my emotions on paper. If not for her  I might not have won a Poetry Society of America award for my collection. She however attributes my success to the inspiration of my muse.

Whenever the talk of muses comes into a conversation I tend to cringe. One of my fellow writers at my critique group had recently mentioned a place of honor would be given to her muse. She had been blessed with an idea for a children’s story and had two publishers vying for the rights to take it to press. The elated woman sat a wooden doll’s chair beside her computer for her creative compatriot.  My muse rarely shows up when I summon her.


Fake Muse/Page 3

The mailbox in front of my property became visible to me, and my heart began to race. The small white box sitting on a cedar post surrounded by black eyed susans and purple sage held my fate.  The wind and rain had not let up and I wondered how I even managed to make it down here. It had been these very same flowers that inspired my first poem.  Now this very same scene created a mixture of anxiety and defeat.

I opened the mailbox,reached inside, and quickly pulled out its contents. After stuffing it inside my coat I made the journey back up to the house. I tossed the mail on top of yesterday’s newspaper on my coffee table and stared at it.  Uncertain if my beating heart would ever cease its thunderous cacophony, I held a hand to my chest. On the table lay a crisp clean white envelope with the letterhead of the publishing company of my recent manuscript submission.  A quiet, subtle voice inside my head whispered, “It might be fake.”

“What the news?” I could not believe I was seriously responding to that inner voice. Although I still wore the coat, I felt my body shiver. The sneeze and cursing that followed was explosive. Not acknowledging your muse can be troublesome to your career. Completely ignoring it might be detrimental to your health.





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