She’s a hard mistress. Fail to meet her demands, or worse, her expectations, and she can be cruel, too. When she’s kind, though, music is sweeter, colors are brighter, love is grander, and possibilities are endless. Many have spent their entire lives trying to capture her so they could live under her bondage. Others have used alcohol, drugs, and even suicide to escape her torture. Her choices are her own, though, and rarely can we fathom her wanton ways.

If you’re lucky enough to one day find her staring at the world through your eyes, she’ll convince you that you’re unique, and your voice needs to be heard. She’ll let you see the shadow of greatness as it slips around the corner and promise, no swear on all that’s holy, that she knows where it’s hiding. She’ll whisper that if you’ll just trust her, you can track the beast down and raise its bloody head in triumph as the world applauds.

When you find yourself facing the monster, though, you realize you’re alone. She’s flown away, chasing something bright and shiny while you’re left helpless, suffocating under the weight of your own words. Sometimes, if she’s feeling playful, she’ll return just long enough to tweak your ear, but she’s always gone before you can turn your head. While you can’t see her, she’ll use your own doubts to beat you down and flog you with your most hidden insecurities.

Sometimes, she demands tribute. It might be a certain kind of pencil, a favorite coffee, or a particular workout routine before sitting down to write. Some say she’ll only speak to them in a certain place, while others hear her song everywhere. Some need absolute silence to hear her voice, and others hear it in the noise of the world around them. Some need alcohol to loosen her tongue, others, coffee. Often, she doesn’t tell you what she requires, but she accepts no excuses. Pay her price, or she will remain mute, laughing while you go mad imagining what could be.

My required offering is usually music. I never know what kind, but I’ll usually figure it out pretty early on and set up a Pandora station in case it’s called for again. Coffee is a must, too, though sometimes bourbon is demanded as a substitute. I have an office set up at home for those times I strain to hear her voice, but more often than not, I find greater silence in the noise of a coffee shop. In fact, the picture to the right is one of my muse’s favorite spots. It’s in a local shop on the square here in town. She hasn’t been there lately, but neither have I. She’s working hard on the ending to Mammon, and she’s kind of shy while she works. It’s close, though; I can feel it. I just hope I can figure out what music she’ll sing to when she’s ready.

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