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Tempting the muse

Are you addicted to office supplies? Do you tremble at the mere thought of entering the hallowed doors at the temples of Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max? If you are, you are among the many who daily make words their business and their play. Why do these places hold such a fascination? Why are we so drawn to their contents? I think it’s because they are today’s Taj Mahal. They are temples where a writer goes to openly court the muse.

What is not to love about these stores? Every aisle is full of plunder. I stand in awe of Post-it bins and racks. My muse is tickled to touch the stickys whose numbers and shapes continually increase. We lament the demise of the useful small squared ones. When we sticky shop we’re like the three bears: this one is too large, this one too narrow, but this one—this one—is just right.

The small minutias that attract the muse and wake up my dream world include the clear boxes of colored and shaped paper clips. The reaction of some writers when they receive a few pages of manuscript papers held together by a dark red outline of a star is amazing. They covet them. My pages are returned with the old hum-drum silver clips. Tack pins, post-it flags, highlighters, and oh yes, those wonderful retractable Sharpie pens daily engage me. They are the toys I use to draw my muse out to play. They offer a tactile lure that never ceases to engage her.

My muse loves to mind map. Together we cover the walls and any empty space we can find with the poster-sized sticky notes and erasable pages. We have been known to completely rearrange hotel rooms. Notebooks are dedicated to mind maps of scenes, potential chapters, early character maps and even shapes of complete novels. Naturally we succumb to the lure of colored pencils, gel pens, highlighters, small packages of pencils, and those pens of a particular nature and feel that attract our use. A corridor of potential maps springs to mind every time my fingers feel the shape and texture of the tools.

But a muse of today is not locked in the past. Oh no. She is a contemporary muse who laughs with glee when she turns into the electronic aisle. Digital recorders, handheld mini-cams, colored printers, mini-digital photo albums, iPods, and now the new small computer netbooks like the Acer Aspire One. Electronic toys are capable of holding her attention for hours upon hours and she fills my mind with an unending stream of thoughts and ideas. It is a joy to spend an afternoon with my muse engaged in office supply delights.

Now I ask you, what engages your muse?

Note: Special thanks to Editor Unleashed for inspiring this post.


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