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He picked up a pen and used it as a pointer on her computer screen. What is this man doing? Sucking her up like a vacuum cleaner? Not sexy at all, unless you have a cleaning fixation. He winked and gave her the thumbs up. Just as she was wondering how and when inspiration was going to strike, the words began to form in her mind. They built up momentum to full speed, her fingers flying over the keys as she transcribed them. She sat back and read it through. Sweet and tentative, building up slowly to the first kiss, tempered with realism and a touch of humour. Was that me writing or you?

He stood up, smoothing the kilt down over his legs. A few of us male muses have set up a support group to get us through the initial hurdles. This is new to me, too, you know. Muses have to be fed to keep up their strength. What do you like? For sweets, chocolate brownies, no nuts and custard tarts.

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To drink, vat 9 Hunters shiraz. The next afternoon after work as Esther filled her shopping basket at the supermarket, she reflected that feeding her muse was an expensive exercise. She could have fallen asleep at her desk and dreamt the whole scene. Maybe she was losing her sanity and had hallucinated him.

Except that it had been so real. After dinner Esther sat at her desk and waited for Albert. The next night she waited again, then the night after. Bloated and despondent, she turned on her computer and tried to immerse herself in her novel. After a few minutes the hair on the back of her neck prickled.

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She whirled around. Albert was perched on top of a painting on the wall, legs crossed, grinning at her.

Where have you been? He wore purple velvet flares, jelly sandals and a leopard print singlet top, revealing bony shoulders and pale arms. Esther stifled a smile. Once you start to analyse it, it disappears. Now, do you have my supper ready? Every night after Esther had settled at her desk and begun to type Albert appeared, each time dressed in a different, outlandish outfit. He lolled about on her desk feasting on the food that she cut up into tiny pieces and drinking shiraz out of a medicine glass.

Her fingers were flat out keeping up. After a few glasses of shiraz Albert fell asleep, emitting puppy-like snores. Then the words came to a standstill and Esther poked him in the ribs to wake him up. After a while Esther plucked up the courage to ask him about his style of dress.

Like that sarong, which is casual beach gear, with a shirt and waistcoat which are formal wear. We just make it up as we go along.

Then, buoyed by her accomplishment, she began her next novel. After two months, she received her first reply. Rejection again. But the day after, she received a call at work on her mobile phone. It was Sarah Lindgren, the romance editor of Pascoe Publishing. You deserve it! Pascoe Publishing offered Esther not only a contract and an advance on The Power of Love, but also a contract for two more novels to be completed in the next twelve months.

Esther proposed a toast. If we were visiting we had to tiptoe around so as not to disturb him. He sent his stories to publishers but never had any luck, and he gave up in the end.


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Took to the bottle and died of cirrhosis of the liver. I like to think of him, wherever he is, being able to share my success. She continued her next novel, but the hard slog of writing as well as holding down a job took its toll.

The Nine Muses of Greek Mythology

Sometimes she nodded off at her desk at work and Joe had to gently shake her awake. Eventually, after The Power of Love was published and became a best seller, Esther resigned from her job to write full-time. Life was much more enjoyable now she was able to write during the day and relax in the evenings. Albert was also happier now that he was free at nights to attend his male muse support groups. She moved out of her rented unit and bought an A-framed cottage overlooking the sea, with an attic perfect for writing.

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She had her hair re-styled and coloured and updated her wardrobe, as befitted a successful romance author. She no longer had to resort to vicarious romance as her own life was full of romantic opportunities. Men materialized from everywhere and she was never short of a date. She and Joe still met occasionally for lunch and he gradually shed his sadness and hang-dog appearance.

I knew his flaws, as a husband and father, but understood the darkness he dealt with all his life, inside and out, and grasped, too, that he leaned toward the light, with a heart as big as the world. Now, I was its fleeting guardian.


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Being a believer in symbols and talismans like Dickens, who had dueling bronze toads on his desk for good luck , I bought a Dickens action figure, all shiny plastic, bright green vest, top hat, with a quill in his fist, ready for anything. It was a small, frivolous thing, but even at five inches tall, he felt like a companion.

I had that channeling feeling that if I parked myself at my computer, especially in the wee hours before my conscious mind took the day, Dickens would tell me what to say, exactly how he would say it. He was talking me through it—talking through me—and all I had to do was write it down. I could find my voice in his. It felt like he had picked me. And I married another, an accomplished filmmaker with whom I stayed for 23 years.

But here was Dickens driving it home, my attraction to men who live an enormous life—almost unimaginable to those of us who sometimes watch instead of do, think instead of talk, hold back instead of lunge forward. I could live off the fumes of their big life, too. My husband liked to tell the story of our meeting, how he looked in my eyes and knew his life would never be the same and that the party was over. He was in an artistic lull, between movies, ideas, places, women. Unsure of my own aspirations at the time—I had also recently left a career, a relationship, a city—I meant to go to Italy and have affairs with Italian men until the money in my pocket ran out.

I wanted to reclaim Italy for myself, a symbolic do-over, and decide what the blank slate of my future held. My resistance gave way to falling in love, even embracing my own muse-dom.

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We were both convinced I could restore him, in some way, that I was necessary to his art, and well-being. It was a marvelous life. In the early years, I followed where his work took him; he came to trust me as a script reader and critic of his writing. We traveled, often to Italy, which he loved as much as I did.

What a relief it was, at first. It was a great moment to speak to women. We wanted to do something different, something that wasn't already out there in the market. From architects and engineers, to philanthropists and designers, Newman explained that the new brand will share success stories, values and views across fields and speak to educated, dynamic and sophisticated women. Instead, Muse boldly carves out its own niche. Muse talks to women who are pioneering new ideas, doing interesting projects, and current and future trailblazers.

So, rather than telling a business story in a typical way, we've gone deeper, below the surface. Muse was important to launch now. As Newman explained, it was the right time. We have a lot of stories to tell.