“Toz, where the frog are you now?” That’s me foaming at the mouth yesterday morning. But frog—really? My daughter’s been sanitizing my language.
Without swearing, I can find Waldo in his red striped hat, no matter how well he hides. Not so with Toz. I named my muse after a dog I once had who snuck through untended doors, off down the block, and gone. I’d call and call in a panic as hours turned to days. I loved her, but hated the trauma she put me through.
“That dog needs training,” a friend said. “No more lackadaisical one day this the next day that. Demand obedience.”
Before I turned to writing, no one told me a muse could be more enraging than a willful dog. Take last night for instance. Toz, the missing muse, had been gone for days, my attention claimed by a possible roof collapse. She didn’t care.
Four hours sleep for me on a good night, and she decided to come home at 3AM. She poked me. I rolled over.
“Not now.” That’s how desperate I was for rest. She loomed over the bed and plink, plink, plink, a water torture of words dripped. She wouldn’t stop.
“Alright, alright, I’ll listen.” I kept my eyes shut and let the words coagulate. I’d deal with sentences in the morning.
But I knew Toz; by morning she would have swept all the words into her sack, slung it over her shoulder, and headed out. I had to write the pesky buggers on a yellow pad I kept by the bed. I switched on the light. Being the shy creature she is, she drew back. She’d rather have me in a half-zombie state, preferring I write in the dark, the words slanting across the page five to seven at a time until the pencil runs onto the blanket. I learned not to use ink for nighttime scrawling.
Sometimes she lets me use a penlight as long as I keep my fingers over most of the shine; then words can cover the whole page without running into each other.
Much as I try to train Toz (the way I tried with that dog), she’s been training me. No shock collar, no electric fence around the house, I have no bruises to show (not even ink from a rolled up newspaper), yet, day after day she keeps me confined to my chair, typing as fast as I can, lest she leave and never come back.