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Anxiety Levels for Writers

What if the Office of Homeland Security developed a color-coded warning chart for the anxiety level of writers? Here's what we believe it'd look like. by WC Vasquez

Your muse not only polishes story blobs into sparkling gems, but also repairs your car’s transmission and mends your relationship with your parents. At night your muse nestles beside you in bed and whispers sublime opening lines to new stories. Every morning she makes you hand-squeezed orange juice and pancakes in the shape of Alfred Nobel’s profile. She never leaves your side.

What a promising pile of index cards, napkins and gum wrappers you have! They’re filled with evocative words like “penance,” “revenge” and “lust.” Before you begin writing each morning, your muse makes you an iced coffee. She massages your back as she guides your cursor across the screen. Before she leaves you alone at night, she murmurs, “Fear not, Word Warrior, you shall win this battle.”


One morning you find your manuscript lying in the cat’s litter box. Your muse swears a gust of wind must have blown it in there. She says you’re a talented and soulful writer, and she would never, ever disparage your words. Your tabby cat jumps up and down on your desk and points his paw at your muse. She picks him up and coos, “Ah, sweet little kitty thinks you’re a fine writer, too.”

It’s 3 a.m. Your computer screen is snow-blind white. Your notebook pages are slick with your own drool. The blinking cursor hypnotizes you into mumbling, “I should have gone to business school.” Your muse steals your cell phone and chats for hours with other writers she considers far more talented than you—some living in Bulgaria. You only receive an occasional text message: “R U NUTZ?”


You run into an ex-classmate from your “Beginning Fiction” workshop. He’s the twit who always confused Raymond Carver with Raymond Burr. He says he’s just sold his first novel for $1 million. “Wanna tend bar at my book party?” he asks. A black limousine pulls up beside you and the driver lowers the window. It’s your missing muse! She blows you a kiss and drives away with your ex-classmate.

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