There I was, typing away on my NaNoWriMo novel, when suddenly, from nowhere, my inner editor walked into the room.
“I thought I put you away for the month!” I gasped in surprise.
“It’s not so easy to get rid of me,” snarled the Editor, “especially when you persist in writing garbage like this.” The Editor gestured toward my rough draft.
“I’ve barely begun! It’s going to get better, I promise! Please, let me finish before you change anything,” I begged without shame.
“Finish? Finish what? I see no plot, no interesting characters, no point to your story at all. Your work is a convoluted mish mash of half baked ideas and ridiculous sentiment – a third rate effort at best.”
“Let me make this very clear,” sneered the Editor, growing in stature by the moment, until she filled the room, “This. Writing. Sucks.”
“Of course it sucks! It’s a ROUGH draft. That’s not the point. The point is writing, getting the ideas out, letting the words flow – and that’s what I’m doing.” I tried to stand a little taller. “I don’t care what you say: I’m going to keep writing.”
“Look kid, I’ve seen better writing on bathroom walls. What you have here isn’t a rough draft – it’s a monument to mediocrity. Maybe you should give up writing and learn to basket weave. It’s supposed to be very meditative.”
The Editor had morphed into something larger now, something even more fearsome, a being that sucked all the creativity from the atmosphere. The Editor was now a Dream Sucker. It towered above me, and plucked at my very hold on sanity.
“Look at this house,” the Dream Sucker said. “Pet hair everywhere, funky smells in the basement drain, and no clean clothes for your children to wear to school this morning. You are wasting your time on a book you will never finish, and that no one would read if you did. Meanwhile your family lives in squalor. What is wrong with you?”
“LALALALALALA,” I cried with my hands over my ears. “I can’t hear you!”
“Very mature.” The Dream Sucker shrugged with unconcern. “Have you even looked at this manuscript? All fluff and padding – it’s all about the word count with you, isn’t it? No thought for quality or even a basic sense of story structure. You are such a sell out.”
“Sell out? SELL OUT?” This accusation shook me free from the web of fear the Dream Sucker had woven. “How can I SELL OUT? I’ve barely begun, and you are trying to convince me to quit, to turn back, to give up my dream? Not today! Not on my watch! Not while I have breath in this body! Not while I can think of any more clichés or well worn phrases to beat like a dead horse! No way! Not gonna happen!”
I went on, “Here’s the thing – I may suck, I may never get published, heck, I may never even make sense. But I’m not going to give up! I WILL write, day after day, more and more, the words pouring out of me like an avalanche of alliteration, and I WILL NOT GIVE UP!”
The Dream Sucker was not going to back down easily. “Oh, like the other times you said you wouldn’t give up? Let’s go over them shall we…”
“No,” I shouted, “you will be silent! I remember my failures, but they do not defeat me – instead they motivate me! They help me remember that this time, THIS TIME, I will follow the course I set for myself. I control my own destiny – not you!”
“Impossible!” The Dream Sucker began to shrink, and now looked like an Editor again. “Let’s talk about your plot! Your characters! Your lousy grammar!” The Editor smirked as she rifled through the pages of my rough draft. “This has ‘rejection pile’ stamped all over it.”
“The only one headed for the rejection pile is YOU,” I shouted, holding my fountain pen aloft like a sword. “I created you, I control you, and your very existence is dependent on me. This world I am writing – it is MINE, and you have no place here until I give you one. I AM THE CREATOR OF THIS WORLD AND YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE!”
“You’ll come back to me – begging!” countered the Editor, even as she faded into nothing.
“BE GONE VILE UNDERLING!” I commanded. “DO NOT RETURN UNTIL I SUMMON YOU WITH THE SACRED STONE OF REVISION! AGAIN, I SAY – BE GONE!”
There was a dramatic swirl of color and light, and then a mind bending POP as my bagel jumped from the toaster. I shook my head and looked around the room, dazed and shaking.
“Was it real? Or just a dream?”
I stared at the blinking cursor at the end of my computer text, not recognizing the words before me, but sensing they were, in fact, my own – a written testament to my courageous battle with the nefarious Preemptive Editor. I raised my hands to type again, and then stopped, my fingers frozen in mid-air even as they were curving toward the keyboard.
There, next to the computer, lay the fountain pen. I lifted it up, as reverently as one does a sacred object, and ran a finger down its smooth barrel.
“It’s true,” I whispered to no one but myself. “I am the creator of this world.”
And, setting the pen back down on the table, I began to type.