The Magic Door–or, How to Call Back Your Muse when it’s on Vacation.

Last Friday I was feeling–well, out of sorts. If you’re a creative person like I am, you’ve experienced a similar feeling: like a square trying to fit into a round hole. Nothing was going right for me. I had planned on doing some writing, but at the present moment,  felt like my muse had suddenly decided to take a vacation: gone on one of those famous Italian cruises, I guessed!

I paced back and forth in my office. I was desperate. Then I had an idea!

I went and stood just outside of my office area and, with my right index finger extended, drew an imaginary outline of a standard sized door in the space around me. I started out with just a plain outline of a basic door: about seven feet high and roughly thirty inches wide. Then I began to embellish it. I placed some large, yellow sunflowers with smiling faces about two feet off to the right, ensuring that some of their cheerful yellow heads bobbed happily into the door’s space to help break up the otherwise stark outline of the door, then added twin vines on each side,  letting them entwine as they grew upwards to end in a dense, leafy crown over the door header. Then, much like a magician would do, with the same index finger I drew imaginary bunches of tiny white snow flowers in my hand and, in dramatic fashion, sprinkled handfuls of them on the vine. They glittered and fell like fairy dust as they settled among the green, leafy vines. The whole scene looked quite pretty–and antiqued! I wanted to give the scene an old-fashioned, late seventeenth century look, and I was about to complete the scene by imagining an ornate, black metal bench just to the right of the door where I could stop to rest and drink in the tranquility of what I had created, should I choose to do so, but at the last moment, decided not to. I didn’t want to stop to rest: I wanted to open the door, and get in!

My next step was to mentally construct the door of deep brown walnut wood, well aged,  inlaid with garlands of floral designs in a lighter walnut. I hung the door on large, old rusting iron hinges that had been hammered  into their present  shape eons ago by an artisan who loved his craft. The door was heavy and, at present,  quite impossible for me to open unless I knew the right combination of magic words that would let me lift the iron latch that held the door firm in its place (I borrowed the design for the latch from a photo I had once seen in a magazine of a beautifully crafted latch on a door of an old castle). At first, I drew the door as being stubbornly immoveable because that was exactly how I felt–at least, creatively!

Then, another thought: what lay on the other side of that door?  To find out, I would have to think … think hard …  find the secret, magic password that would let me lift the heavy iron latch and open the door.

Abracadabra!” That was the best I could come up with at the moment. What the heck–I wasn’t creative today anyway.

To my surprise, that was it! That was the magic word: Abracadabra! Suddenly I was able to easily lift the heavy iron latch . The door objected irritably by creaking loudly as I pushed it open and walked through. In my mind, ahead of me, lay a long, narrow bench topped with plain, office quality, off-white Arborite and had several computers positioned strategically along its length. Men and women were sitting in front of these computers, each busy typing something … I dared to step closer to peek over the shoulder of a pretty young lady who was so busy typing she never even noticed my presence. She was creating a romance novel. She was dressed in a seventeenth century peasant-cloth grey dress, complete with white bonnet and apron. I named her, Annabel.  “I’ll bet she’s in love with the young prince that lives in the castle just down the road, and he most likely doesn’t even know that she exists.” I felt empathy with the young lady.

Next, I inched cautiously over to the lady–I placed her in her late 30s– short, blonde hair, very trim and efficient looking, dressed in a starched white shirt under a light grey business suite. But, unlike the previous young lady, I couldn’t go unnoticed here: she saw me, looked up from her computer and threw me a smile.

“Watcha workin’ on?” I thought I might as well ask since I had been discovered anyway.

“It’s a draft for a business plan my boss wants me to type up for him,” she offered in a tired voice. “As if I haven’t got enough other office work to contend with, now I have to  also type up his personal stuff.”

I left her to finish her draft and moved on to the next gentleman–well, surprise! I’ll go out on a limb and call him a gentleman, but he was anything but that: completely the opposite to the previous trim lady in a business suite:  he was unkempt, hadn’t shaved for a week, wore a dirty white Tee shirt stretched over an overstuffed beer belly  and was wearing  jeans that had seen better days. He even stunk a bit.

“What you want from me?” he growled as I approached. “You’re not getting any ideas from me!” He covered his monitor with an equally dirty grey hoody so that I couldn’t see what he had been typing. “I have a hard enough time coming up with ideas for my own stories.”

“Well, I wasn’t–I mean, I was just … browsing–“

“Well, don’t browse!” He yowled back that ended in an animalistic grunt. What an unpleasant person, I thought! “Go back to your own computer. You got more creativity than I’ve got.” He got up from his computer and came towards me in a threatening manor. I’m sure he meant to do me harm …

O.k., I decided that was enough! And, not a moment too soon, I ducked back to safety behind my side of my Magic Door.

Then, more magic! As I stood there, still holding fast to the latch on my Magic Door, now tightly closed  to bar that–ugh, gentleman–from grabbing me, I suddenly felt completely refreshed.

“Hey!” I fairly shouted, surprising even myself as a realized the  rush of creativity that now engulfed me. My Muse was back off its Italian holiday! With renewed confidence, I again took both hands and lifted the imaginary  iron door latch and again stepped through my Magic Door, only this time I didn’t create an imaginary scene. The scene was already there in real time!

The long  bench with its computers and people typing on ‘clickety’ keyboards were gone. I now  stood in the real world facing my own, real computer monitor. I sat down and started typing …  clickety, click-click … scenes and visions rushed into my head faster than I could type.

Thank you, Magic Door!

About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
This entry was posted in Encouragement, Fiction, Points to Ponder, Short Stories, Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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