Monday, August 9, 2010

Framed by the inner editor

I don't entirely believe in writer's block. I know you hear about it all the time, and to be honest, I've been stuck on chapter seven for a couple of weeks now, but I still don't believe in writer's block.

What I do believe in is inner editor block. Perhaps a better term for it would be creative constipation. I figured it out late last night as I finally got past the problem I was having with chapter seven.

The writer in me was knocking out the story in a pages document. She was excited because she had finally gotten past awful chapter seven and was in the zone, happy and oblivious. Then she heard a knock at the door. Not knowing better—the writer never seems to learn—she innocently opened the door with a smile on her face.

Standing before her was the inner editor in disguise, wearing one of those fake Groucho Marx glasses-nose-and-mustache numbers to hide her true identity. The writer recognized her anyway. Her hair was pulled back into a tight bun like it always is, and she had twelve yellow number two pencils sticking out of it like an academic porcupine. She peered over the reading glasses sitting on the tip of her nose and tapped a carefully manicured fire-engine red finger nail on her cold curving smile.

"I can't believe you wrote this," she said with an unpleasant snicker.

The writer looked confused. She had to pull herself out of the story-world she had been in and back to reality. "What do you mean?"

The inner editor sashayed over to the computer and pointed a long accusing finger. "This! I mean, apart from the obvious grammatical mistakes, it just doesn't flow. What were you thinking?"

The writer shriveled under the inner editor's mesmerizing gaze and harsh words. The inner editor pressed her advantage.

"There's no way you can go any further until you get this thing fixed. Furthermore, as penance, you're going to have to go back and rewrite every chapter so far at least ten times until I'm satisfied." She leaned against the desk, shaking her head sorrowfully. "Don't think you can get any substandard writing past me. I saw the notes you made about chapters eight and nine. The plot is implausible, the characters shallow, and the dialogue ridiculous. I doubt it's worth putting it down on paper. I'm thinking we need to junk this whole project and start over from scratch."

The writer's eyes glazed over. She was almost completely paralyzed, caught in the evil clutches of the inner editor.

"And don't think you can blame me for any of this drivel. It's all your fault. You're the writer, after all." The inner editor smirked.

The writer shook herself, a spark appearing in her eyes. "Hey," she said. "That's right. I am the writer."

The inner editor flinched. Maybe she had gone a tad too far. "Now, now. I didn't mean you were in charge, or anything like that. You need me or you wouldn't ever produce a polished manuscript." She edged toward the door, but she wasn't quick enough. The writer grabbed her by the collar and gave her a quick shove into the hallway. The editor stumbled away, trying to regain her footing. "Hey! That is no way to treat an editor!"

"Too late." The writer was back in control. "When human resources sends you to Acapulco because you're a pest, you need to stay there until I ask for your help during rewrites." The writer began to shut the door, but paused for a moment. "Oh, and by the way. No one is going to pin writer's block on me when you're really the culprit. Scram!"

The inner editor scurried down the hallway, picking up number two pencils that had worked loose from her bun. The writer shut the door firmly. She dusted her hands and took a deep breath. It felt good to be free of the inner editor once again. She sat down at the keyboard, fingers poised for only a moment before they began to tap the keys.

"As I shook water droplets off my arms, I ran into Mom, who had stopped in front of me. She gave a strangled cry..."

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