Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hornets and Your Muse

I saw a neighbour taking care of the weeds that were springing up at the edge of his sidewalk tonight. He was killing the weeds. With a torch. Honestly, it was some kind of small torch attached to a little tank. It was an odd sight, watching this fellow nonchalantly flaming the little green growths that were trying their darndest to pop through. Better than weed killer perhaps, but a bit gruesome.

It brought to mind the fact that this neighbour is weird. Also that spring is indeed here and Mother Nature, in all her myriad forms, is making her presence known.

Plants are remarkably resilient. They'll seek out the tiniest little crack in pavement and before you know it, there's a bright yellow dandelion there, peeking out from between the road surface and the concrete.

Insects, too, are relentless. This weekend I discovered the return of the hornets, who scour my porch during daylight hours, looking for suitable places to start building a nest. The scouts come out, two, three, four at a time, and flit about, peeking in this and hovering next to that in their never-ending search for someplace to start a new hive and make my porch uninhabitable.

I generally try to coexist with the critters I find around the house (with the regrettable exception of the mouse bait box I eventually had to resign myself to putting in the ceiling), but the last thing I want is a wasp's nest in the porch or the shed or inside one of the garden tools. They'll go into any little hole that's big enough for them, and I don't want a nasty surprise when I pick up a trowel one afternoon.

One hornet hovers around the collection of trowels and tools on the garden cart, looking for an opening to crawl into.

ooh look a hole i can fit in there!

It squeezes itself right into a hole that apparently leads to a hollow inside the perhaps cheaply made tool. I growl to myself, watching, and mutter something like, "Dammit, get out of there."

Meanwhile another hornet approaches the screen door. It buzzes around, apparently investigating with great interest... a screw that holds the door together. I guess it looks like a hole until you get up close.

i can fit in there i can fit in there i can fit in there no that's a screw that's a screw that's not a hole

"Would you get off my porch, please?" I don't think this is an unreasonable request. The hornet, neither capable of understanding English nor caring about my human concerns, moves on to a discarded hunk of cardboard I need to throw away.

how about this can i fit in there maybe i can go into this crack right here no thats not big enough how about here right over here i can fit in here no i can't fit in there either

I reach for the wasp spray. "Last chance," I mutter.

The hornet has moved on to the wood beams lining the outer edge of the porch.

what about this wood what about this wood what about this oh no its sealed ooh look there's a hole i can fit in there

I do not want this hornet building his nest in the edges of my porch, so I spray him with the wasp killer.

aaaaah poison air stuff ick ick

It staggers and fidgets, trying to get away from the offensive substance. I triumphantly and righteously proclaim my victory. "That's what I said. Now get!"

But the hornet has not been dealt a final blow and he manages to flitter free of the poison and move on to investigate another promising-seeming hole.

man that was nasty but ooh, look, a hole. i can fit in there i can fit in there i can fit in there...

I sigh, shaking my head, and go back into the house. Hornets: 1, Human: 0.

Your Muse, too, can be relentless when she has something for you. It's important to be tuned in when she comes by, because she won't always whack you over the head with a shovel. That kind of behaviour is reserved for Muse-inspired characters who will stop at nothing to get noticed if you give them the time of day.

The Muse is unlikely to mimic the behaviour of the stubborn hornet. This exchange, for example, is an unlikely scenario:

Your Muse comes floating in on a wisp of cloud through your workspace window and alights ever-so-gently on your shoulder, lilting, "O writer, I have a fantastic story idea for you!"

You're too busy plinking away on the Internet to notice anything unusual is going on. What's in the email... look, Aunt Marcy's dog had puppies!

Your Muse, undeterred, takes a sparkly little thing and attempts to wedge it into your ear canal.

Now you're on to Facebook or some other social media site and have no concept of anything else except this annoying itch in your ear.

Finally, your Muse, not to be put off in this fashion, takes out the Icepick of Ideas and the Pay Attention Sledgehammer.

Not really, no. If you ignore your Muse, she'll likely just slink away and sulk for a while. "No, I had an idea for you, but you were too busy playing FishVille. FishVille! Over me! Such nerve. Well, I hope you have enough ideas stored up, because I'm going to Aruba!"

So keep your creative senses open! And hand me the wasp spray, will you?

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