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A cup, a cup, my kingdom for a cup!

Now that you’ve got your perfect Muse food in mind, the next step is to find an appropriate container to both hold the food item and, equally importantly, to attract the Muse. My Muse happens to be attracted to fine bone china in a violet pattern. Others might like a fiesta ware bowl, or a vintage square Tupperware Christmas plate. And for some of you, a Styrofoam cup may even suffice.

The caution here is not to spend the next two years searching second hand stores, antique malls, and the houseware departments of various stores seeking that special item. The point is to find something that you already own or that can be easily and affordably obtained for your purposes. (Which is not to say scouring antique places and flea markets and so forth doesn’t have its own appeal, and also can make excellent artist’s dates. Just think of all the characters and dialogue notes…)

Once you’ve got that ‘grail’ in your hands, you’re nearly ready.
* * *

“Now, Bwana,” N’gawa says, “Place the coveted food item in the bowl and go hide behind the tree at the edge of camp.”

You do as you’re bid, squatting in the thorny undergrowth of the savannah, hoping those aren’t fire ants you feel crawling up your ankle, and there, as the sun beats down overhead,, and the heat shimmers above the dunne colored grasses, you wait in patient silence for the Muse to smell the offering of the Cheetos and come.

And wait. And wait. And wait…

Several hours later, you’re no longer able to feel your legs. Sweat has plastered your camp shirt to your back, and the afternoon sun has seared the back of your neck like a broiled tomato. Your native guide comes out of your tent, where he has been taking a refreshing nap in the relative coolness there, on your camp cot covered in fine Egyptian cotton linens. He approaches your hiding place, making little attempt to keep quiet. In fact, he’s whistling.

“What luck, bwana?” He smirks at you.

“None yet,” you mutter darkly.

“Perhaps you need to give the Muse something to drink too.”

Wait, did N’gawa’s accent just slip? For a moment, it sounded almost as though N’gawa had had the benefit of an Oxford education…

But that thought quickly vanishes in the light of his brilliant suggestion. “Yes! Eureka!” You shout, rousing your entire contingent of dozing porters, and disturbing a male lion off in the brush, who lets out a reverberating roar.

“A libation!” Then, more quietly, “That’s it. The Muse also requires a libation. N’gawa, what do we have on hand?”
* * *

Muses, just like writers, cannot live by bread (or Cheetos, or chocolate, or garlic mashed potatoes) alone. This is why, in part, so many writers keep high priced coffee houses and quirky neighborhood pubs in business.

So now it’s time to think about your favorite beverage, your poison of choice. Is it a bottle of Orange Nehi soda? A bottle of Chateau Neuf de Pape? Or maybe a soy, half-caff Macchiato with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg? Or how about a pint of Old Peculiar ale?

What form of liquid bliss makes you feel writerly? Comforted? Puts you in that special frame of mind necessary to create?

Whatever it is, it’s good Muse Bait. So hie yourself off to the local dispensary and lay in a cup or a pint or a bottle of whatever floats your boat. And install it forth with in your Muse trap, right along side your Muse Food.
** *

You gingerly place your libation into the trap, your hand hovering for just an instant over the tantalizing feast. You realize you’ve missed the elegant dinner the porters prepared while you sat in the brush waiting for the Muse, and you’re starving. But no – these sacred victuals are for a far nobler purpose than filling your empty gullet.

You pull your hand away and as you straighten, N’gawa smiles at you.

Once the trap is set you slip quietly through the darkness to hide again among the bushes, there to await the coming of the Muse, secure now in the knowledge that your trap is baited correctly.

Darkness surrounds you, the sky now a blue-black blanket, awash in stars. Time passes and the sounds of the night lull you into a deep drowse…

Okay. You’ve found you Muse food, and your beverage, you’ve placed those morsels of orange, crunchy goodness in the vessel of perfection and the beverage along side.

What did you say? What do you do now?

Why, you feast, of course!

Oh, you could leave them on an altar – or the kitchen table, or the corner of your desk – for a bit, if you are so inclined. But just as in ancient Egypt, when the priests of Amun provided a feasts for the representation of the god to eat, after an appropriate amount of time had passed for the god to partake of his ethereal sustenance, the priests would then feast themselves. There was no point in letting all that good food go to waste, and so it is with Muse food as well.

So feast with abandon upon your Muse food, quaff the sacred libation, and know that as you do so you are filling your soul with the creative spirit, even as you’re making your mouth and tummy happy!

Enjoy! Your Muse will thank you.

Copyright 2011 by Nan Sampson All rights reserved.