The Ghost of Mrs. Demur

It’s a Special Kind of Insanity

It is, at first, a faint buzz.  Barely audible, a whisper that says, “Hello, I’ve arrived.  Please take note.”

Engaged with shampoo in the shower?  Deeply entranced in the garden?  Strolling on the shore? No matter, fictional characters demand their hearings.  They’ll pound.  They’ll scream. They’ll throw temper tantrums to put Godzilla to shame–until you hear them, until you pay the dues they’ve come to reap.

Like pods from outer space, they infest your mind and body.  “Type this, type that,” they say.  And, if you do not abide, they deliver nightmare after gory nightmare as you attempt a fitful slumber.  No dream catcher has yet been fashioned to snare the likes of Mrs. Demur.

Once she has your attention, she becomes dictator, extraordinaire.

“You’ve used the word ‘debutante’ in reference to me.  Never in all my spirit would I use such a word. Change it to ‘belle.’  Listen up!  If you’d turn down the Joan Jett, you’d hear my instructions more clearly.”

Just as you settle in with the likes of Mrs. Demur, the bellowing voice of an exotic character from some faraway, non-existent planet screams, “You know you prefer writing sci-fi.  Who are you trying to kid? Since when are you willing to toil over southern dialect?”

Your feeble, “shut up” fails to take your wriggling flesh off the hook.  And so, you agree to pay this character his charge, once you’ve finished with Mrs. Demur.  Still, he fails to leave your head until you’ve opened a new document to at least create a title for his escapades: “The Writhes of Klingon.”

While he’s caught in a trance of admiration for the title, Mrs. Demur gives him a swift slap to the back of the head and sends him on his way.

And so, you’ve given space in your mind to Mrs. Demur, without so much as charging a monthly rental fee.

You find yourself staring down the display shelves at the local office supply store.  Which notebook looks regal enough to hold notes for a novel which will, one day, become a classic?  Ah, purple with gold trim.  Perfect.  Index cards, a must.  New ink cartridges for the printer.  Pens with comfortable rubber-gel linings.  Altogether, your supplies total $75.63.  You expel a heavy sigh, wishing Mrs. Demur would consider signing a lease.  But, not all is lost.  Stuffing the receipt into your pocket, you promise to contact a clever accountant who will write the supplies off as a business expense.

God Bless the ghost of Mrs. Demur.  After years of grappling over a classic southern saga, after bulldozing your outline and insisting on having her own way, she’s vacationing in the Bahamas, leaving you to toil with agents and editors on your own, leaving without the slightest word of encouragement.

“Hello?” You whisper, a bit of desperation leaking into your tone, “About the Writhes of Klingon…”


Author of Devil's Edge, The Future Queen, and J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street. I live in Rhode Island with the love of my life, two menopausal tomato plants, and several purse-snatching poltergeists. I love to read. I'm an archaeology buff, I poke around in science and physics, philosophy and art, and I enjoy gardening. My favorite movie is Fried Green Tomatoes, I listen to movie soundtracks while I write. Like Garfield, I will absolutely chase my own shadow for a pan of lasagna.

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Posted in Process, Writing

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