Muse at Work

Creative Nonfiction
Kate Gibalerio

You need to write something. Anything. Emails don’t count. We’ve gone over this. The same for tweets, texts, and Facebook chats. Just say ciao to your cousin from Rome and log out. Peek at Google News, if you must, but limit yourself to one article about swine flu—you’re on deadline. You need to write something for this evening. Get your venti latte, then sit, and start writing—anything—to share at Writers Night.

But first you must decipher the train schedule and figure out how your teenage daughter and her friends are getting into Boston since one of the girls completely misread the inbound departures and as it stands, there’s no train for them to ride. Do not volunteer to drive them. You have Writers Night. Do not let Alison volunteer to drive them. She’s hosting Writers Night. Just write—anything—before you have to cross town to pick the kids up from gymnastics and stop at the supermarket for an appetizer to bring to Writers Night. And get dinner—because everyone—the dog, the girls headed into Quincy Market, your husband, me—will be looking for dinner.

By all means, call the vet for the overdue Frontline prescription. And then you can sit on the back porch with your laptop and write something. Hold on, you need to get the candids for the sixth grade yearbook to Wendy before it goes to print and while you are out, drop off the DVDs at Blockbuster before they notify the authorities.

Now sit, relax, and write. Anything. Finish that essay about launching your eldest to college or the memoir about the comet—any of your nonfiction pieces will do—except the genealogy—we’ve been over that—no genealogy.

Try to focus and you may have a decent draft by seven. Don’t forget—the pecans for the appetizer need to be toasted. Pop them in the oven now so they have time to cool and then get back to the essay—it’s practically writing itself.

What is that irritating dinging noise? Get the pecans out of the oven. Get the pecans. Get the pecans. They don’t look so bad. Just throw the black ones out. Your son is off the bus, but don’t let him distract you. No, he cannot have five friends for a sleepover tonight—remember—you have Writers Night. No, you do not have to read the school alert about swine flu right this moment. It can wait. You have to write. How about that thought you had yesterday. The one about mellowing as you get older. The one that brought to mind the Woody Allen quote from Annie Hall about mellowing and ripening and rotting. No, you don’t need the exact words. No, you don’t have to look it up. Great, you found it. You are quick with the Internet, but do you really have to MapQuest the distance between Rome and Venice right now?

Just write. Anything. OK, after you feed the dog and exile the burned pecans to the garage and assemble the appetizer—no it doesn’t taste funny. No, you do not have time for a manicure.

Yes, you do have a lot of unfinished short stories but I doubt, after years of neglect, you can actually complete one in 37 minutes and have it ready for tonight. No, you may not drink wine to counteract the latte.

No, now is not the time to start a novel, or lament the fact that you don’t have a novel in you. Now is the time to write, please write.

That is, after you read your email, search Duotrope’s Digest, upload photos onto Facebook, download BlackBerry apps, consult Symptom Checker on WebMD, compare multi-city flight schedules on Air France, Google yourself.

At least, at the very least—end this essay. Here’s an example of a finished piece: my resignation. Ciao.

After a year-long hiatus, Kate Gibalerio has returned to writing creative non-fiction and short fiction. When not writing and wrangling with muses, she’s parenting or traveling or discovering additional distractions on the Internet. Her stories have appeared in Toasted Cheese and Boston Literary Magazine. Kate resides in Massachusetts with her family. E-mail: kate.gibalerio[at]

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