Hazards of Being a Personal Muse

A Word from Melvin Marvin

Work has been pretty intense lately. I’m finding it difficult to keep up with Marlyn’s demands. Being a personal muse is not easy. I’m expected to inspire ideas, give feedback on the plot, aid in the construction of dialogue, listen to innumerable read alouds, and offer productive criticism as regards flow and relevance. I should also mention the job hazards, and there are several.

Devil's Bridge in Sedona, Arizona water carved bridge of red rock
Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

One time she took me on a day trip to Sedona. I was touched. She told me it was a vacation and to just relax and enjoy the inspiring views. She took me on a hike to Devil’s Bridge. Breathtaking sites. She treated me to a Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks. Sipping on the Frappuccino, we gazed out at an incredible landscape. Being a personal muse has perks. Everything was going so well.

Not all Perks, The Job has Hazards

Then Marlyn asked, “So Melvin, what if we write a book about a woman, let’s call her…Amanda. So, Amanda takes a day trip to Sedona and when she reaches the top of Devil’s Bridge, she’s kidnapped by aliens and taken to their lair on the dark side of the moon? What do you think about that? Sound good?”

I just wasn’t thinking clearly. The whole day trip thing and the Frappaccino just loosened my tongue and I replied, “Marlyn, that is the most ridiculous plot I’ve ever heard.”

Marlyn didn’t take it well. She slurped to the end of her drink and abruptly grabbed me up. She stuffed me in the back pocket of her purse and proceeded to shop.

“Marlyn, I’m sorry. Please take me out of here, it’s dark,” I pleaded.

Melvin Marvin behind bars of a display stand in a tourist shop
Officially punished – Marlyn left me in a tourist shop

“Melvin, you twit, I didn’t employ you to ridicule me.” Marlyn took me out of the back pocket and stuck me behind a barred display in the shop, “Enjoy that, you ingrate,” she goaded as she turned on her heel and left the shop. She left me there for three hours. Clearly, if your employer does not appreciate full honesty, being a personal muse can be hazardous.

Sometime after sunset she returned, apologized, and took me home. The entire event initiated within me intense dread over my obvious lack of control. That’s when my visits to Dr. Conrad began. He’s a great psychoanalyst, if you find you ever need one.

On another occasion, I simply wasn’t in the mood to respond. I admit that I have my own issues to wrangle with, and, frankly, any employer worth working for should know when to push and when to be supportive. But Marlyn can be quite narcissistic and selfish. There are times that she even speaks for me when that is not what I was planning to say. I find that quite disturbing.  I already struggle with issues of ‘control.’ Dr. Conrad informed me that this is not unusual for a puppet, particularly an intelligent puppet, like myself.

Time Outs Suck

puppet placed high on a shelf in a time out
From my Time Out perch

So this one time, when I did not have the mood to respond, Marlyn accused me of indignant silence. She constructed a ‘time out’ area just above her work space and left me there as punishment. It was torture. Not only did my best friend (Marlyn is my best friend, sad to say) demonstrate blatant disregard for the psychological turmoil I suffer from, but she committed me to a location that further intensified my area of weakness, ‘a lack of control.’ Confined to this perch, I was forced to observe her as she worked by herself. Every once in a while she would glance at me, angry and vindictive.

Consumed by my own resentment and frustration, I stubbornly refused to give in and earn my release from the ‘time out.’ I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold out. After all, I provide a vital, irreplaceable service. And that is when the unspeakable occurred. Marlyn jumped up from her chair, grabbed her car keys, flipped me the finger and left the office. She returned a few hours later, brimming with self-satisfaction. She reached into her bag and pulled out my replacement. “Hey, Melvin,” she taunted, “look who we have here. Meet Martha, my new personal muse.” I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, I realized just how expendable I was…again, no control.

Well, as with everything ‘Marlyn,’ it didn’t last forever. She soon realized that Martha was a horrible muse. Martha simply agreed with everything Marlyn said. “Damn, Martha, you suck! Can’t you offer a bit of constructive criticism? How can I get Amanda out of this predicament? I have her trapped in a cloud of alien mucus.”

To which Martha replied, “There’s nothing to criticize, Marlyn. You are a genius.”

Marlyn looked my way, “What’s your take on this, Marvin?”

I said, “Trash the story, Marlyn. It’s awful.”

A Good Muse is Hard to Find

hand holding Melvin, a bird finger puppet, and Martha, a small plastic large eyed finger puppet
Meet Martha – She works for me now!

Marlyn genuinely smiled, “You’re right, Melvin. I’m so sorry. I should have listened to your advice the first time.”

Martha is still with us. Although she doesn’t contribute much as a personal muse, she does make for an interesting companion. Well, I must get back to work. Hazards do exist, hours suck, and Marlyn is a temperamental time bomb, but I’m needed and that makes it all the more worthwhile.

Marlyn in a Funk

Graphic of Marlyn’s Funk

This has been a difficult holiday season. Marlyn was in a real funk. She nagged about everything. “The world sucks.” “We’re all gonna die in 2017; idiot president elect thinks nukes are toys.” “My damn toilet won’t stop running, it’s a sign.” “Marvin do something productive for once, go jiggle the damn flush handle.” I said, Marlyn that’s it. I draw the line right here. I am a personal muse not a toilet jiggler.

Nothing I did or said was right. I’m usually a good listener but the whining exceeded my capacity. So, I did what every understanding  friend should do, I hid. It wasn’t too difficult. Marlyn had this enormous pile of miscellaneous papers and letters on her desk. I figured in her present mood she wouldn’t  likely touch the Pile. So, one evening I slipped down under the bottom layer and chilled. It was a bit disorienting listening to her ranting without seeing her.

Four glorious days I spent there. I practically memorized the entire mammogram refusal notification letter that had kicked off Marlyn’s foul mood.  The last day she was totally freaked that she couldn’t find me. “Damn it, Marvin. Where the hell are you?” She apologized a grand total of 73 times. Yep… I did count them. I figured I could store them for future reference. She found me when the

Back to Work

insurance company finally returned her call requiring that she retrieve the notification letter from within the Pile. When she saw me, she threw down the phone and smothered me with kisses. Until that moment, I had never realized how much I meant to her. Gratifying.

2018 looks better now. I’m ready.

Meet Melvin Marvin


Let me introduce myself. My name is Melvin Marvin. I work as a personal muse and trustworthy companion for Marlyn Mohs. I take personal affront, I’ll have you know, that the word Muse is defined as ‘a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.’ That’s bunk. Who determines that a source of inspiration must be a female? Marlyn is a writer, an aspiring author, to be exact and I am a perfectly adequate muse. I enjoy my work. The hours are long and irregular, but it’s a living. I get to travel, which is a definite plus. She brings me where ever she goes. I have some difficulty answering the phone. Consequently, I keep permanent residence in her purse.


I enjoy reading, when I’m not working. I also enjoy coffee, sunny skies, and bananas. Is that relevant? Marlyn depends on me. She says I’m a good listener. Not that I have much choice. It is disturbing that she asks a question and then answers the question. Oddly, her response is just what I was thinking. We are connected that way. Special.

It’s time for our morning coffee. Marlyn needs some help with Book Two of the Journeymen series. I don’t get it. Why can’t I have my own cup?