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 Swamp Thingy at Large
I’m Going to Write a Book
by Swamp Thingy
Professional Muse,
degrees M.U.D., B.O.G. and O.O.Z.E

Column #6, January 2015

Have you ever tried to write a book? There’s so much we could teach the world and I think we ought to take pen in hand or tentacle or what have you and write our own stories instead of wasting our talents on those ungrateful employers who don’t provide well for us.


Yes, I’m more than a little disgruntled. I’m still waiting for credit on my work. It’s snowing outside so my bog water got cold. She didn’t turn the heat up. Too concerned about finishing a short story idea I gave her. Hmph! She says they’re for fun. For her, maybe, but what do I get out of it?


I’m considering an expose of the whole writing thing between us muses and their employers. Maybe they ought to live in bogs or whatever cramped quarters they give us. Have you ever thought of the freedom we could have if we lived in their places?


I ran into an old acquaintance the last time I was coming home from seeing my alligator friends. I’m thinking of taking up residence in the sewer next door to them. It gets crowded at times when all their family members come to visit and the local rats hold one of their noisy drinking parties. Ever hear a pack of rats singing, Ault Lang Syne? Egads, what a sound.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll rethink that idea.


Back to my expose. I do get sidetracked sometimes, don’t I?



Well, I’ve got the basic idea. We need that first, you know. Then comes how to work out a plot. My problem here is choosing fact or fiction. Fiction is safer, as fact can get a muse sued. Can’t go in for defamation of character or anything like it. Need to keep it clean.


I’m thinking fact though, as I can prove what I say. My employer is a sporadic writer and sometimes lazy as sin. I am an ambitious fellow and know I could turn out a book a month if allowed to write. She thinks I can’t use a typewriter or computer. Well so what? I can write by hand. Surely, publishers will consider a really good story no matter how it’s written. Wouldn’t they?


I mean, they’re all open to new writers. Right? Like agents. They want to see our work. Don’t they?



Okay, so I have to ask a few questions first. But how hard is it, writing a book? We sit down and start writing and when it’s done, that’s it. Right?



Yes, I know there may be minor editing required, but it’s true, isn’t it, that anybody who want to write, can do it? I know, I’ve never read many books, but why should I? I have a lot of things I could tell readers. Like what my first drink of brown bog water was like. Yum! Or moving into my first home. Now that was fun, until I was evicted because my roommate gave drunken pool parties. The splashing all night annoyed our neighbors, a pair of owls who said they couldn’t hear mice running around. One night they dropped a lot of dead fish into the bog. They were so stinky, we couldn’t smell our lovely sulphurous water.


Can you think of any reasons I shouldn’t at least write one book? I’ve learned about self publishing too. A little, anyhow. As long as you have somebody to guide you along, how hard can it be? And once it’s published, don’t writers sit back and wait for the money from sales to roll in?


I’ll get rich. I’ll be famous and I won’t need to work for no silly writer any more.

I am sure I can do it and I don’t need my silly employer to help on this one. She won’t get any credit either. 


You just wait and see. I’ll keep you posted.


Anne K. Edwards


Halloweening
by Swamp Thingy
Professional Muse,
degrees M.U.D., B.O.G. and O.O.Z.E

Column #5, November 2014

In spite of the fact that my employer doesn’t like me taking holidays, I do on occasion. This year I went Halloweening. Maybe you saw me or were one of those people who yelled at the group of kids I was with when I slimed up their walk to get a treat. The kids thought it was a great trick and asked me to show them how I did it. Well, I told them it was a thin gelatin I kept in a tube. So look out homeowners, next year I won’t be the only one doing the sliming.


I don’t need a costume which is handy. Halloween is the one year when us creatures that look like a horror movie monster can go out and not get chased with brooms. I still have some broom straw in my backside that hasn’t worked its way out yet. Feels a bit like having porcupine quills in there. I did get told by the police again this year that I needed to wear light reflective clothes so I borrowed a blinking sign from a road work site. It satisfied their requirements, but I hear they had to fish a few inebriates out of the hole where the broken water line was. Fortunately, it isn’t deep and I’ll put the sign back on my next outing. I can’t figure out how to stop that awful blinking and it disrupts my sleep something awful. My employer is beginning to complain about the quality of the ideas I send her.


I don’t see why. She doesn’t use the best ones. I wonder what she does with them. Oh, well...

On my night out, I did run into a few of the real critters of the night. One came flapping at me when a late season moth got stuck on my head. It’s always sticky with a thin coating of slime. Anyhow, that critter that wanted the moth, got stuck on me too. One of the smart alecky teenagers who were too old to trick or treat tossed a stuffed cat at me too. It also stuck. I had the last laugh on him when he got stuck in an especially thick puddle of slime and fell. He had an awful time getting to his feet. It took three of his buddies to get him up. The fun came when they were all stuck together. I had added a layer of quick drying glue to my slime and it worked. I think the police that arrested them for blocking the sidewalk are probably still laughing. Well, maybe after they get them out of the back seat of their car. It’d be interesting to know what solvent they use to free them from the seat.


An owl tried to carry off the stuffed cat that was stuck on the back of my head. He didn’t get stuck but I sure was covered with feathers. One of the kids said I looked like a traveling dump but another said I should add some dead leaves for a real affect. I did when we came to a big pile the city hadn’t cleaned off the streets yet. Well, I let them throw the leaves on me after they all had fun rolling in the leaves. The branches and stick in the leaves itched so I kept trying to scratch. A policeman stopped me and wanted to know what a drunk was doing trick or treating with a bunch of kids. I tried to tell him my problem, but he wouldn’t listen and made me get into his back seat. The heater was on and it made my slime run so by the time we reached the police station, all the leaves and sticks were floating in a puddle on the floor and back seat. He was a little mad at me for that.


They didn’t put me in a cell and the janitor followed me around with his mop and bucket, swiping up my trail on his floor. He didn’t sound like he enjoyed Halloween either.


After that, I went home to relax. My employer started yelling at me when I tried to get back into my bog. It seems some of that quick drying glue was still on me and I got tangled up in her hair. She had to use her scissors to get me free. Now she is nearly bald and I look like a wig with mange. Does anybody know how long it will take for that mess to wear off?


Regardless of my problems. I had a blast. I slept until late the next day.


I didn’t have a sack like the other kids, and when I pulled my treats out of my stomach pouch to eat them for breakfast, I found they were all messy and smashed. They were delicious. I washed them down with brown bog water. I hope I get to do this again. Do you think they’d allow me to trick or treat on Thanksgiving?

***

What to Do With Unused Characters
by Swamp Thingy
Professional Muse,
degrees M.U.D., B.O.G. and O.O.Z.E

Column #4, September 2014


Yeah, it’s me again. I have a question for all you muses. That is, if you have the same problems I do. This time, the question regards what to do with unused characters. I have some living with me at the moment and they are pests. They all want their own story, better living conditions, etc., etc., etc. Their complaints are endless.

Let me tell you about a few. There’s one fellow called Sunshine, but he’s as gloomy as a cold, rainy day. He wants a light, cheerful tale of how he brings joy to the lives of his fellows. Can you see that happening? He’d need a complete rewriting of his description which he has refused more than once.

Then there’s a woman in her late thirties named Bella who has poisoned five of her husbands. I never drink any brown bog water she’s handled even though we’re not married. Would you? And what does she want, you might ask. You’d never believe it. She wants to be a pole dancer and find a rich husband. I can’t do that. I’d be an accomplice to her next murder. 

Then there’s good ole Larry. He likes to sit in front of a fire in a nice soft leather easy chair with his feet up. He pretends to read obscure works by obscure authors but he’s only wondering how to get his latest gal pal into bed. I can’t do much for him either as I don’t see a story there.

A final example, though there are many more, is Lulu. She’s a little gal from nowhere. She is rude to the others, messes with my ideas and in general is a brat. I can’t find anyone to adopt her. Any ideas?

This is some of the most recent chaos I’m living with while my employer tries to finish her most recent mystery novel and move onto other projects already in line for completion. She’s absolutely no help in reducing the population here. Do you have this same problem? What do you do about it?

I’ve tried making them disappear by eviction, but the people at the local sheriff’s office laugh at me. They start giggling and yawking it up the minute I ooze in the door. And you should hear the guy who has to mop the floor after me. He even hit me with a wet mop because his machine got jammed up on my last visit. Nobody would listen to my problems with nonpaying tenants.

So I deliberately flooded my bog. How did I know they could either swim well or had flotation devices One guy, a windbag of old, just inhaled and waited me out. Man, could he float. Main problem there was his inhaling caused a whirlpool to develop when the water ran out the hole in my employer’s head. Sadly it didn’t take these characters with it.

I’m considering an idea called Mish-Mash, a tale of unused characters. Perhaps I could turn them all into politicians or maybe dream up a murder mystery where one character goes about bumping off the others. It would reduce the population here. What do you think? Would any one of them work? If I could find an idea that would include the whole bunch of them, I’d send it out and make them go along. Once out, they can’t get back in. But you know, sometimes I pity the world when it has to put up with characters released into the general population.

Have you considered what happens when a zany vampire is turned loose or some rich guy wants more, more, more only to go broke? I won’t be responsible for this sort of thing. Like turning Lulu loose on the world. She might become dictatoress or worse.

So these characters occupy many of the niches that I used to use to store my bog water in. I’ve thought of feeding them to the alligators in the Harrisburg sewer system but don’t want to be responsible for the resultant gastric explosions that would fling the manhole covers into people’s windows. That’s happened in D. C. and Baltimore in the past.

Another worry I have, is some of the homeless people wandering the streets. I think they might be unused characters I evicted once. Now I see they don’t have any place to go and a homeless shelter won’t take them if they don’t have a name or aren’t complete. You know what I mean by that--they’re in black and white because I didn’t say they had red hair or no hair or had blue or brown eyes, they’re tall or short. The result is these half formed people wander about, looking for a half baked idea they can complete. 

So now I’m a purveyor of half baked ideas?

Where does one send these characters? I doubt I’ll ever find them a home and I’m running out of room. Pretty soon, my employer will insist I get rid of them. But, how? She won’t take them.

Swamp Thingy


******

Writer's Itch
by Swamp Thingy
Professional Muse
M.U.D., B.O.G. and O.O.Z.E.

Column #3, August 2014

Have you ever had an itch you couldn't scratch? Well, that's what writer's itch is. It's a disease that comes from unknown origins and can be transmitted from wannabe writers to other wannabe writers, and it worsens as they turn into newbie writers, progressing to a full blown case of itch as they become published writers. It doesn't matter what genre or what they write, or whether it is fiction or nonfiction. The truth is that writer's itch is chronic and the only treatment that helps (there's no cure) is to write and it doesn't matter what they use to write--pen, pencil, crayon or computer. The simple act of putting words on any surface is the only known treatment that grants any relief.

Of course, victims of this itch must immediately begin a new project or the itch will manifest itself in a variety of symptoms like restlessness, crankiness, stubbornness, snappishness, and other such obvious behaviors. They may tap their fingers incessantly or jiggle whenever they sit or stand. Keeping pen and paper handy helps relieve the worst of the symptoms.

Beware the false sense of security a victim may have when writing. The itch can strike if a temporary lull occurs such as writers block. As a muse, I thought I was immune to the effects of this disease, but, to my sorrow, I find I am as much a victim as my employer.

Her symptoms of writer's itch are erratic to say the least. She will be in the middle of one project and decide to break it off to attack another of the ideas I've produced, leaving me in the middle of trying to push others out the hole in her head before it develops into a muddle. Her muddles are terrible. They backfire on me, of all innocents, and I am literally buried under a pile of ideas she refuses to accept at the moment.

Have you ever had your employer try to do more than one thing at a time and do it well? Mine doesn't. The trouble is that her ind (a real mess) wanders all over the place. She reads, she edits, she weeds flower beds, she teases her cats, she emails friends, she cleans files--all of which indicate restlessness and I can sense trouble.

She'll take up a new idea I've given her, meaning for it to be considered later, but she goes into the throes of excitement and off we go. I am the source of both ideas and words she writes, but I do admit to being somewhat slow at times. I have trouble keeping pace when she may take off on her own and produce such writing as you've never seen. Then we must waste time editing and rewriting. Once the excitement passes, I'm stuck with filing another half done or half developed piece that we'll go back to again and again. This is what I mean by erratic behavior caused by erratic symptoms. She has trouble sitting still, and often turns to playing with a cat instead of forcing herself to work. 

I really prefer to get one project done before another gets underway, but she won't listen. Do you have any idea how many odd things are stored in my bog? It's turning into a real mess.

Do you, my fellow muses, know of any prevention for writer's itch? I've thought of tying her to a chair but it wouldn't work. Her cats have developed anticomputer attitudes and have learned how to lose files, shut the machine off, or even turn on other things to look at. An example of that is last week when I managed to get her focused on working when that dratted brown and white critter called Sixpack showed up and turned the computer off. All my great words were lost.

Those rotten cats try to keep her focus on them so if they want something, she'll rise to serve them. Like giving her black cat tidbits of cheese when he wants them. He has a whole routine for that one. Or one of them will get sooooo sleepy and they absolutely can only rest on the typing chair she's using or an alternate wooden one (it's really they want the one she's using) or they must stretch out on the typing table and the only comfortable spot is in front of the monitor where the keyboard sits.

Every time she gets up from her chair, she trips of a cat too. That results in another bogquake and mental tsunami. Ever live through one of those? I get soooooo tired of it all, I may have to look for a new employer or take up other work like feeding alligators on an alligator farm. Please, please, either find a preventive for writer's itch or give us muses safe havens in the heads of nonwriters.

So if you see a blobous creature oozing down the road in your travels, it'll be me. I'll be carrying a lot of half brained ideas and crates of brown bogwater, my staff of life. Do stop and offer me a lift. 

Swamp Thingy

                                                                                     * * * * *

Putting Up With an Author--How Are We Muses Supposed to Cope?

by Swamp Thingy,
Professional Muse with degrees M.U.D., B.O.G., and O.O.Z.E.

Column #2, July 2014


That’s the big question for the month. It’s one that gives me the most trouble. I mean, an author is a pain in the...well, we all know where. They whine and demand and cajole and plead for those hard-to-create ideas we give them and they never say thanks, give us a present or paid vacation or anything. I could use a new suit. And my slimer is getting worn from oozing along paved roads. I’ve got pock holes in my butt from those pot holes from what those humans pass off as roads. Does my author give a hoot? Not a bit.

She goes blithely on her way, doing just as she wants and that leaves me all covered in cat hair. There’s clumps of it clotted together, floating in my bog. Ever smell wet cat hair? Try it and you’ll know what I mean. If it was angora, I might be able to make s shirt out of it for the winter, but I don’t have a spinning wheel anyhow. The cat hair I complain about comes from brushing and petting her cats and believe me, there are lots of them. 

Sometimes, they make her sneeze. Gads. My bog sloshes around then something awful. Stirs up all that muck I had safely hidden on the bottom. When it sloshes out her ears, I have to turn on the water to fill it up again. Then she complains about the water bill and says her head feels like high tide has come in and stayed. What am I supposed to do? 

If I remind her of our contract, she gets defensive and says the mess I make is my own problem. Yeah, sure. We muses live in their heads and make a mess. We are guaranteed suitable living conditions. So I got my bog. It’s a comfortable brown and nice and warm with a slight sulphury stench. Just as I like it. Can I help it if the smell escapes out the hole in her head and people complain?

I like to read in bed too—yes, I have a bed of nice soft mud, warm and soft. She doesn’t like to lend me books because they get wet. Is that my fault. After all, it is her head and not very well furnished. Lots old junk in there behind my bog though. When it breaks loose in a slosh she causes, my bog becomes a wet floating junkpile. She won’t hire any help to clean it up either.

I get no help, I get no respect. I get nothing. Maybe I ought to trade places with one of those big gators that live in the Harrisburg sewers for a while. She’d get a real surprise then and it wouldn’t be an idea.

That would be one way of coping. I know most muses are treated better than I am so if any of you have coping suggestions, please let me know. Meanwhile, I think I’ll take a short leave of absence and see some friends. That’s my favorite method of coping and it really ticks her off. I’ll just ooze up to Harrisburg, drink bog water, and chew the fat with my big gator friend and his son-in-law. Maybe one of them will want a job.

Swamp Thingy

*************************

ARE MUSES BEING CHEATED?

by Swamp Thingy,
Professional Muse with degrees M.U.D., B.O.G., and O.O.Z.E.

Column #1, June 2014

Has it ever occurred to you muses that we are being cheated of our claim to fame? We don’t get the credit for our ideas, our names are never on what is written by us as credit goes to the human too lazy to think for him- or herself. For Instance, years ago I had a great idea for a new story and dictated it to my then companion who took it down word for word, typed it up and submitted it as her own work. She got the contract and I got zilch.

Think of the injustice. My name should have been on the cover, not hers. She didn’t even give me a credit line anywhere in the book and owns the copyright too. She says she is my employer and pays me with a place to live. Well, harrumph...pardon me, but it is a soggy prison and that’s all. Water and mud slip and slosh all day or any time she moves her head. Her brain is tiny and floats around freely, bumping into me as I try to rest. If it were a living thing, I could understand its need for companionship, but it is nothing but a hard, dried-out shell that pretends to think.

Think about what, you may well ask. Well, that little hunk of dried wood pretends to think of plots for a mish mash of characters that I must straighten out before they can live or move on the page. What an outrage!! I do all the work and a large splinter gets the credit.

That is why I ask, are we muses being cheated? Shouldn’t we get the credit for our work. There is a law that protects the rights to intellectual property, but in my case it wouldn’t work. Think what would happen if I had to appear in a courtroom? They’d all take one look and holler ‘Monster’ or something equally stupid. Just because I look different than humans do, and am probably their idea of an alien or a creature from some lagoon, is that fair? Okay, I am different, I slime my way around the roads at night and leave a slippery mess in some back yards where I take a dip in their pools to cool off on hot nights. There are those who call in the police to hunt for ‘an alien from a space ship that landed’ and so forth.

You humans are so locked in on what might live in outer space that you never look into your inner space. That’s where you’d find things stranger than me.

I’m just a muse trying to make a living and enjoy life. Most of the time I must slosh around in that infernal steamy, smelly bog and try to come up with an idea that the writer I live in will accept. She’s picky. If I don’t give her an idea she likes, she threatens to make me homeless. So while I complain about being cheated, I must take care not to offend too much until I find another place to live. Do any of you know of any empty heads that have running water and steam heat where I can plant my bog plants and move in?

It is very hard for my type of muse to find a job. I took this one only because I was the only applicant. I must be honest and say I was warned by the previous resident about the cranky character of my present companion. She has compromised by allowing me to have my own column for opinion pieces like this. But I have am still willing to consider another, better deal where I can get credit for my work. I can see the by line now—by SWAMP THINGY, Creative Muse...