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Do you take requests?

Since I’ve started writing these essays, some of my readers have sending in requests. Some of the requests were solicited. I did write something like Tell me names of Grinnellians I should write about. Other requests were not. For example, one person asked me to write about the election and another asked me to write about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize. One person even asked me not to write about them (and no, I don’t think that was reverse psychology).

So, it’s reasonable to ask myself: Should I take requests? Many of my favorite artists don’t. Van Morrison used to sneer when people asked for Brown Eyed Girl or Gloria. Jonathan Richman would generally ignore people who asked for old Modern Lovers songs. In both cases, those are artists who clearly follow their muse. And, as I’ve often said, I tend to do my best to follow mine.

That said, I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing to give my muse options. Sometimes my muse catches me early in the day, and I think about an essay all day. Other days, like tonight [1], nothing really pulls at me, and so I look through my long list of potential essay topics until I find something that my muse thinks sounds good [2]. So, do I object to requests? Not really. They can get added to the list of potential topics, and my muse may find that she [4] likes them. But you shouldn’t expect that I’ll ever write about your request. After all, it seems a bit late to write about Dylan’s Nobel Prize or the election [5]. And, like those requests, requests that are particularly timely are probably not the best thing. Requests to write about politics are also not likely to be the best thing, since I am unlikely to be inclined to write about political topics given that there is already discussion of revoking citizenship for political speech.

If you do suggest something useful for me to write about and I do write about it, what reward will you get? I probably won’t cite you (unless you ask me to). I won’t send you a gift (at least not for suggesting the topic). But maybe you’ll get to read my thoughts on the topic.

So yes, I guess I do take requests. And, you know what? I think Van Morrison now sings Gloria and Brown Eyed Girl and Jonathan Richman sometimes works Modern Lovers songs into his set. But it’s still when they want to, not when someone suggests one of those songs.

[1] Should that be like today? It’s night. Maybe Other times, like tonight.

[2] Yes, my muse directed me to write about requests. Mostly, my muse knows that I’m exhausted, and needed something short. We thought about having me write about my name, but it appears that’s a short essay for another day [3].

[3] Or night, as the case may be.

[4] Have I written about choosing a gender for my muse? I think so, but I’m too lazy to look. Anyway, since the muses are traditionally identified as female, I will use female pronouns for my muse, at least in this essay.

[5] Okay, I did write about the election. But that wasn’t a full essay.

Version 1.0.1 of 2016-12-06.