PROSE. From the Journals of a Muse by Jeremiah Matthews Part I

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Once upon a time, in a far-away land isn’t what I do anymore. “Once upon a time” is just too easy; kid’s stuff, really, borrowed from writers who borrowed from older writers who borrowed from folklorists who stole from some of my earliest female clients. The comfort and originality of the phrase worked back then, and in the ink of the right Artist, perhaps it still can. But given the changes Muse Business has gone through in the past few centuries, I’ve come to realize we may have seen the end of once upon a time.

“Once upon a time” was the last great invention our Narrative Division has seen in quite some, well, time. It blurred the senses as only a seducing opening can, causing an audience to feel a sound or see the spoken words. I must say it’s puzzled me for some time that those in the Artist world cling to the idea of only five senses — five simple little boxes into which they can put more boxes until they are absolutely positive they know something they didn’t before. And believe me, I’m no exception — I could have been king of categorizing, had there been an anal retentive kingdom for such a thing. My rumored love of categorizing may be one of the reasons the Boss recruited me, but that story changes every time I hear it, never the same opening twice.

It’s hard to say where we come in, since personally, I’ve worked with clients at so many different points in the process. I used to think we’ve done it all in the Narrative Division. We’ve established the formula of beginning, middle, and end, and we’ve listed that faithful trio in every possible order, countless times. We’ve reversed, combined, doubled, tripled, and deleted, all for the sake of helping to create a story that’s never been told. That Russian fellow who said there are only 32 possible things that can happen in a fairy tale was really onto something. It isn’t easy retelling the same story over and over, and beginning with “Upon a time, once” will only fool so many fools.

Naturally we can’t do the work for the Artists. We hand them the matches, perhaps show them how to strike, but in the end, they’re the ones that make the fire burn. So you can only imagine how I felt when they tried to take our matches away. The day (and way) Flo came to my office should have tipped me off as to the direction in which we were heading. I don’t think the Boss’s assistant had stopped talking for more than two or three minutes at a time — it’s one of the things I love most about Flo. She was the charming type who would burst into laughter if someone tripped and kept laughing as she helped him up and got him a band aid. I was grateful for Flo’s friendship, especially with some of the less-than-pleasant coworkers who roamed our halls.

But on that day, right before the first silent walk I’ve ever taken with her to the Boss’s office, Flo toddled into my office and with a perfectly-timed raise of her eyebrow, said “She needs to see you.”

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1 Comment

  1. […] Jeremiah Matthews’ Past Works: From the Journals of a Muse Part II From the Journals of a Muse Part I […]


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