Muse for Hire (Chapter 1)

The only despair is man unexpressed’ – Anon


Elaine watches the steam coming out from the rice cooker, hoping her words would flow as smoothly.

She watches the cats sleep right next to her, feeling a bit envious that they can nap all they want and wonders if they can dream.
She listens to the sound of midnight coming in and hoping that Tony, her boyfriend, would not wake up in the middle of night.

She realises that the water heater is still on and that she has been sitting in front of the laptop for almost two hours. All she did was check her Facebook and Twitter.

Taking that advance from Lam was one of the worst decisions she’s made in her life.
What a great timing for a writer’s block.She does not know how she is going to start the story. She does not even know how it is going to end. She tries to write the middle part, hoping that some spark of inspiration would finally get to her.
She read once that she should write what she knows.

The bubbling question in her mind at this moment is what she knows about.

First, she feels there is nothing actually interesting to write about.
Second, everything she can think of, plot-wise, is already published. She feels like someone’s tapped into her consciousness and stole her ideas. And she realised that, that too was a plot from a movie she hasn’t watched but heard about. She dismisses the thought quickly and sighs loudly.
Third, whatever she has heard about, it was completely way out there. Some of the things she have experienced, too crazy to go on paper but everybody’s seen everything on TV. The element of surprise is completely gone unless you’re a real master at the twists.
Fourth, she didn’t want to pay her friends for future ‘damages’ she might accidentally inflict, if she ever thinks about going autobiographical.

In a few hours she decides, she has to get to bed and decide to hop in the shower. But before that, she hopes she gets some epiphany by sitting down in the toilet seat. It sometimes worked.

She takes her laptop to the bathroom with her, sits on the toilet seat and started to think.
She looks at the file of Mal de Ojo and wonders if she should try again for the hundredth time to finish it.
She thinks it’s too supernatural. And besides, she’s not really sure how to put all that supernatural stuff in. She got sick when she was younger, that would be easy to write about but the supernatural part needs to be made up. She knows she can make it up. The last time she made up something supernatural, her friends, bless their heart, thought that it was a comedy. She told herself right there and then that there are things that she’s not good at.

She could ask someone or research for it, thanks to the power of the Internet. The Internet is both a curse and a blessing. Everything’s in it. All the good stuff and the bad stuff included.
Mentally, she already threw the idea to the bin. She has to get rid of this file once she does find a good plot to complete the eradication from her mind.
She heard the front door open. She looks at the clock in the bathroom and knew that it was Tony’s mom.
Tony’s mom’s resides with them. She has just started her retirement at almost sixty-five years old. It took them a long time and a lot of people, to convince her to stop working. She started working at the tender age of fourteen and not moving around that being idle makes her feel like an old nut. If anyone meets her, they’d think she was only in her 50s.

Now she started her own mini restaurant which she runs with several of her friends. They only open on the weekends and not surprisingly, it still managed to be successful.

Elaine knows it’s futile. She can’t think of anything to write.
She read once that the subconscious knows what to write and that you are just in the way. She finds that theory sarcastically terrific. She already knows that this is going nowhere.

She needs a plot. She needs it fast.

Elaine wondered where her inspiration went. When she was younger, she wrote all sorts of things. Her mind was brimming and overflowing with ideas.

She fished them fast, cooked up a storm and presented them with such confidence. And now, she can’t find this confidence anywhere. She wonders where all that ideas went.
Another heavy sigh and she gets up from the toilet seat, feeling a bit numb from the sitting.
She takes her clothes off and starts the warm shower.

She can write something sexy. She knows sexy always work. She thinks about this more as she shampoos her hair. She remembers trying to do that once writing chick-lit. She smiles and cringes at the memory.

She’s a chick and romance would be easy peasy. She started on it, and she tried to put bits and pieces of what her own experiences on paper, three percent truth, one hundred percent fiction. She went through her diaries, trying to recapture the essence of moments. She remembers re-reading the romantic bits and they all sound clichéd and corny. It probably wasn’t trashy enough.
She has a few friends who wrote really trashy short stories.
She was no Sparks but she still went ahead and when it came to a sexy scene, it read like soft core porn written by a fifteen year old. In the end, she didn’t finish it. It all just didn’t connect and nothing made sense. She found it amusing now, recalling how she spent hours re-reading it, wondering if it will work or not.

It definitely did not work.

She made-up good short stories though. She always did. But now, she needs to write a REAL novel.

She leaves the bathroom, feeling refreshed but her mind is still blank. She wonders how her mind’s landscape looks like. She remembers reading novels about how authors see their mind though she never really thought about hers. Not even for fun.

Elaine sits and settles on the sofa, laptop on her lap. Maybe she should watch some TV.

Another hour has passed. She knows that she shouldn’t stay up too long. She needs to get to work on time tomorrow or she gets the can. She decides to watch some news. Maybe it’d help her.

She just remembered that today was All Soul’s Day. She remembered her mom. Her urn is at her grandparent’s place. She knows that she should move it or scatter the ashes but her father insists on keeping it. Her parents separated when she was in her teens. It devastated her since she was the only child but it made her parents better people which she appreciated in the end. She misses her mother. If she manages to write a novel, it’ll be dedicated to her mother.
She thought about whether she should dwell on the possibility of writing something about a family saga but it might be too much drama. That would be bad. And Elaine hates drama. She can’t stand it.

She watches the reporter talk about children getting lost in the cemeteries. She hasn’t gotten lost once, even as a kid which is something of a feat. Her mother was the same. She was like a human compass. She just knew where to go wherever they are. Elaine wonders if her future children would be the same if it’s ever in the cards.
The reporter reports about twenty one thousand cars coming in to a certain cemetery. Elaine suddenly remembers discussion about getting a car with Tony. He wants to purchase a car once they get a proper house. Elaine does not mind the car but she knows that she will never get around actually driving it since she has this odd phobia about driving a car.

Some elders tell her that she probably died in a bad car crash which creep her out. Tony’s maternal grandmother died when his mother was only fifteen. She died in a car crash that killed her almost immediately. When Elaine was told of this, she did wonder of the possibility that she was her reincarnation. She dismissed the thought immediately, of course because it sounds so wrong and creepily incestuous.

Perhaps she could write something supernatural or a horror story? She stops watching the TV to think about this possibility. She can’t even go on with ‘Mal de Ojo’ which started well but it just began to sound lamer as the story progressed. It was another no go. Stephen King would probably find her personally to throw rocks at where she lives. Oh so bad.
A mosquito suddenly buzzes across Elaine’s point of view. She looks around looking for it but could not see it anywhere. She reminds herself to kill the bloodsucker.
Elaine feels a sharp pain on her left forefinger and remembers that she cut this while opening a water bottle. She thought it was rather strange that she felt this pain all of a sudden. Maybe it was a sign that she should not dwell on the horror story. It’s just going to be pain. Elaine sits on the sofa, staring at her finger, amused at her own thoughts. She should really get some sleep.

Elaine hopes she will dream tonight. She turns off the TV and quietly goes into the room and lay in bed with a dreaming Tony.

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