Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Shut up already, Ed!

I have been cursing my internal editor a lot lately. He is really driving me insane. Yes, although I'm a woman, I have decided that my internal editor is a man. If it was a woman, she'd have some pity on me. She would take a vacation every once in awhile. Or at least take a break for a spa day. But no, my internal editor is a type A workaholic who rarely sleeps. Aren't most of those men? I hate generalizations, except when I think they're true.

My internal editor, let's call him Ed (yeah, I know, not very original) sits on my left shoulder (my right shoulder is reserved for the good angel who reminds me to take my vitamins and tsk, tsks when I swear too much.) He sits there and whenever a story idea pops into my head, he takes out this big old fly-swatter and smacks that idea to oblivion. For some reason, he has it in his tiny head that any ideas that aren't fully formed, or don't hold together very well should never see the light of day.

I know, I know - I should write anyway. I should write stuff even if I know it's drivel. Then, in the editing process, I can separate the wheat from the chaff. Find the gold in the dusty gold mine. Shine the diamond out of the rough. (And perhaps I can do that without resorting to cliches.) But mostly my editing consists of hitting the delete button. And that's assuming I actually write anything.

I think about writing all the time. I have several story ideas that bounce around my head. Something comes up and I think "Oh, that would be good for xyz story!" Then I start thinking about the story line and, inevitably, Ed jumps out shouting "That makes no sense! That's not how real life is. And even if you're writing fiction, you have to be logical. No one will buy that premise!" He is deaf to my protestations that I haven't even figured out what the premise might be. That I have to write it down and see where it goes before I can determine whether it's going in the right direction. "Humph," Says Ed. "Go ahead. Write it down but you're just wasting your time. Go play a nice computer game or watch CSI. That's a good girl."

I've read a lot of books and articles about writing. There are some writers who write a first draft that's nearly perfect. I would call them the Mozarts of writing. They are geniuses and I wouldn't dream of comparing myself to them. But most mortal writers have to write and re-write before they get something even close to good. Why is it that I think I should be any different? Why don't I give myself the benefit of the doubt? Maybe, just maybe, even if what I first write is horrible, boring, illogical and poorly written, I might be able to work at it and create something that someone will think is worth reading.

But first need to find a way to stifle Ed. Does anyone have a teeny, tiny muzzle?


Candy Minx said...

Really enjoyed this have a real talent. I am going to check out some of your other musings too.

I am a little early with my Thursday Thirteen...will try to stop by tomorrow again, oops!


Kristen said...

I have the same problem, but the blog has helped me a bit, because I feel a little more motivated to write on a regular basis (rather than just giving up and writing nothing, which is what I used to do). I just read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott - have you read it? I highly recommend it. She is all about "shitty first drafts" and the self-flagellation that writers put themselves through.