The Treaty with Edie

Rilla sorts out writer-ish things with Edie, her rather critical inner editor.

Rilla: Okay, Edie. We’ve been working together for some time, and I think you need to understand something I’ve figured out about me—us.

Edie: And that is…

Rilla: I write for the joy of it. I truly believe we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on this, and I need you to get onboard so I can finish The Zorce Collection.

Edie: Meaning, you want me to stop being honest? You’d rather I didn’t tell you the uninteresting, unpolished, unprintable things you write are trash and need to be burned?

Rilla: Yeah. Pretty much.

Edie: I can do that. In fact, I have no problem letting you wallow in the mire of your own dumb compositions.

Rilla: Now Edie, you’re a good editor. You’ve saved me from a lot of mistakes, I grant you–

Edie: And this is the gratitude I receive for being there for you at all hours? All hours! Because you know I wake you in the middle of the night so you can know about that typo in the comment you posted yesterday! Who else would be as concerned about your image? Protecting you has been my top priority for over thirty years now, and all you can say is, ‘You’re a good editor, Edie, now shut it’? I see how it is.

Rilla: That’s not what I said, Edie. Nobody’s doubting your loyalty here. I don’t want you to quit; I just want you to look at our work as a personal reflection rather than a marketable product.

Edie: ‘Our work.’ Thank you; I appreciate that. So, you’re saying the trilogy you’ve been wrestling with for years is now a personal reflection? You’re going to spend—who knows how many—years to complete three books, and then you want to stick it in your little diary and call it a day?

Rilla: Yes. That is exactly what I mean.

Edie: (jaw-drop) What a waste of your life! Why would you want to do that?

Rilla: It’s simple. I need the freedom to write what I want to write without thinking of who’s going to look at it and what it’s going to make them think. We did that last time, remember? Where did it get us?

Edie: (nodding) I see your point. We’ve been trying to peg this story down for almost a decade.

Rilla: Ugh. Don’t say that.

Edie: Well, it’s true. But, I will admit, you’ve been able to eke out a few good stories, even while you were blocked.

Rilla: Thank you. So, what do you think? If we work on The Zorce Collection as a reflection of our life rather than a product, how would that change the approach?

Edie: Well, obviously, I wouldn’t have to stop you mid-scene to ask if the scene itself is really necessary.

Rilla: Yes.

Edie: The dialogue could be as long as you want it. The word count wouldn’t matter.

Rilla: Yes.

Edie: Ooo, here’s a big one: I wouldn’t have to alert you every time you divulge something that hints at your own painful experiences.

Rilla: Bingo, Edie. That’s the one that’s holding us back.

Edie: So, are you calling this a memoir now?

Rilla: Absolutely not! This is Casey and Ivan’s story. They need to be able to speak, and they can say what they need to say much better if they don’t have a self-conscious author in the mix second-guessing and censoring herself.

Edie: I see.

Rilla: What do you think? Can we give this a go?

Edie: You know how I despise that long-winded garble you call your style. Will I have to wade through that again? I refuse to work with you unless I can still rip apart the scenes that don’t speak the way I think they should.

Rilla: I’ll make you a deal; if you’ll give me time to get the scenes out on paper, I’ll take you page-by-page, through the section when we’ve finished. You can clean it up to your heart’s content.

Edie: It has to be crisp. You know that’s very important to me. Clean and crisp.

Rilla: Well?

Edie: I’m willing to try it. Anything to get this monstrosity out of our head.

Rilla: Thank you, Edie.

Edie: And when we’re done, who knows? Maybe you’ll want to publish it anyway, and…

Rilla: No. Edie.

Edie: I don’t see why. Can’t you just think about that an itsy-bitsy bit?

Rilla: No. We write The Zorce Collection, and it’s done. That will free us to work on (whispers name of fully-written children’s story draft).

Edie: Ah. Yes, that’s been dangling there for some time.

Rilla: Are we agreed?

Edie: We never agree, but I will concede with this one set of stories–which is all I’m giving you!

Rilla: Good enough.

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Edie Crosses the Line

InnerEdie: Ouch! Rilla, did you just see that post with the typo in the title?

RillaWriter: Yes, but it’s not a big deal.

Edie: Not a big deal! Imagine if it were your post! How would you feel if no one told you, and it just dangled there forever?

Rilla: I would survive, Edie. You’re overreacting.

Edie: I suppose you’re right. I mean, that blogger isn’t a writer…

Rilla: Exactly.

Edie: See? See! You think you’re superior. Ha! It’s not just me.

Rilla: (gasp)

Edie: Ha!

Rilla: Wow, you’re right.

Edie: I know I am!

Rilla: I should read that post.

Edie: What? You’re going to read it? What if there are more mistakes?

Rilla: (Click)

Edie: “Oh, no. Oh, no. I can’t read it. I can’t.”

Rilla: “Aw. It’s really sweet. It’s about a thoughtful gift from a friend, and—

Edie: Hey, do you think you might comment? Because if you commented, you could slip in something like, “By the way, it’s not ‘their,’ it’s ‘they are/they’re.’” And then you could smooth it over with “Heh, I make that mistake all the time!”

Rilla: No, Edie. I don’t even know that person.

Edie: All the more reason you should say it!

Rilla: No, Edie.

Edie: How would you feel if you were that blogger?

Rilla: I would want someone to tell me if I made a typo in the title of a post, okay? But that does not mean everyone thinks like I do!

Edie: Definitely not. Right now is a good example.

Rilla: Shut-up.

Edie: Just say something about the typo. Say it very nicely, and I will be so, so quiet. I will even give you mental hugs and high-fives, and we will both be blissfully happy!

Rilla: (Click)

Edie: Why’d you leave that blog?

Rilla: Because you ruined it for me. I can’t read it.

Edie, knowingly: You found another typo, didn’t you?

Rilla: No…

Edie: Yes you did.

Rilla: I found three more, okay? Are you satisfied? I’m snobbier than before, and I blame you entirely!

Edie, smugly: Thank you.

Edie: Hey, look. It’s another one! He typed ‘form’ instead of ‘from!’

Rilla: Arghhhh. (headdesk)

Inner Edie Gives Her Opinion

RillaWriter: Good morning, Inner Edie!

Inner Editor: It’s only good if you tell me you’re not going to keep posting every workday this week.

RWriter: Then… Morning, Edie!

Inner Ed: That’s what I thought. Here’s the thing: I’ve already caught some really stupid mistakes since you’ve started this. One of them was using “new” instead of “knew.” Should this surprise me, Rilla? It does not.

RWriter: Well, isn’t that exciting!

Inner Ed: You’re not listening to me.

RWriter: You’re right, I’m not. Know why? Because this exercise is all about helping my Inner Editor take a backseat for a bit.

(silence)

No hard feelings, right?

(crickets chirp)

Right?

Inner Ed: Just remember this when the blog blows up in your face.

RWriter: When it does, you can purse your lips and say “I told you so” all you want.

Inner Ed: Oh, I will. And, by the way, I didn’t appreciate the post where you told the Blogosphere I misspell ‘copyright.’ That was between you and me.

RWriter: Sorry for admitting you’re not perfect.

Inner Ed: And you did a terrible impression of Gollum. It should be something like, “He wouldn’tses, Preciousss.”

RWriter: That looks stupid.

Inner Ed: And writing about Brain Teaser month doesn’t?

RWriter: I’m free-penning January, Edie. It’s meant to loosen up my literary tongue. I’m liberating my creative voice and freeing the artist—

Inner Ed: Yeah right. You hate it.

RWriter: Okay, so it would kill me if I tried to keep it up—

Inner Ed: And your blog readers would disown you…

RWriter: Maybe, but right now I think it’s kinda fun!

Inner Ed: You would. (sighs) Fine. You get this month, and I take next month—deal?

RWriter: We’ll see…

Inner Ed: I don’t believe you.

RWriter: How ‘bout I promise not to post more than twice a week in February?

Inner Ed: That’s a little better. What are we posting in February?

RWriter: You’ll see.

Inner Ed: Oh no.

My Inner Editor and Me

I’ve been thinking about posting. That’s about it. I’ve jotted down a few things, but they haven’t moved out of the idea file. You know, I have lines like “my worst vocabulary mistakes” and “theory about characterization development – robotics.” I know what I want to write, but I have a priority list with 15 lines, and “blog goals” is number 16. I’d love to knock something out of a slot and move the blog up. Actually, I’d like to be getting items #13 thru #15 done.

I feel like I’m in total chaos. School started at the beginning of August. I think I told you, I home educate. I’m ready to clone myself, only I prefer someone with less of a Type A personality. Come to think of it, if I cloned myself, I’d hate me. I’m way too demanding.

Writing my book is in my top 15. I give myself thirty minutes to work on a scene from the sequel and thirty minutes to work on revisions to Dragonfly Prince. I’ve read Baty’s NaNoWriMo book, where it suggests ignoring your inner editor. In this hectic time, I need to do that and just write. The best I’ve been able to do is argue with my inner editor.

Inner Editor: This is terrible. What do you think this is accomplishing?

RillaWriter: I’m writing. Just let me write.

Inner Ed: It’s not writing. It’s a waste of a good thirty minutes.

RWriter: It’s not a waste. I’m going to go back once the first draft is finished. I’m going to totally rework it.

Inner Ed: Rework what? You have nothing here. The dialogue, the description…they are stunted and unnatural. There is nothing here to salvage.

RWriter: Look, this is my first time doing this. Humor me, alright? Look at it as an experiment. You love experiments! Let’s see what we’ll get out of this.

Inner Ed: And a month or two down the road, you’re going to see I’m right.

RWriter: Then shut-up and let me learn the lesson already!

We are not happy with each other, my inner editor and me. So I know a clone is out of the question.

The Conversation

“You were 126 a couple of months ago. Now you’re down to 123. It’s progress, sure, but it’s not enough. The goal is 114, remember?

“You know what? If you’ll work with me here, we can settle on 116. What about it? Is it a deal?”

(No response.)

“What can I do to make this an easy transition for you? Just name it.”

(Uncomfortable silence.)

“Come on! What will it take to get you down to 114K? And, yes, I’m taking back my offer of 116,000 words because you’re being stubborn!”

(The manuscript still refuses to budge.)

“Look, I’m on your side—I’ll always be on your side—but I have to look at this objectively. If I were asked to read a 123K manuscript for teens that I was reading cold, taking a chance on its writer, I’d probably pass.

“You know, the first Harry Potter book was only 77K.

“I’m rounding up.

A Wrinkle in Time was just under 50. Okay, so it’s true Eragon was 157 plus, but I want to err on the safe side, don’t you?

“Doesn’t it matter to you that you’re not published yet? Because it matters to me. I don’t want you to have to live in a box for the rest of your existence. Of course, I could always end your existence. I have that power, you know.”

(The tension is palpable.)

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. It’s just… I’m frustrated. I’ve been focused on you for quite sometime now. How long have we been together? Let me see… This September, it will be three years. Wow.

“It’s been fun, and I know it’s because I still like you–more than I did at the beginning. You bring out things in me I didn’t know were even there. Some of them are kind of embarrassing, but, all in all, I’m glad we’ve spent this time together.

“I’m not breaking up or anything. I mean, there are some other stories I’d really like to catch up with. Some of them were written before I ever started thinking about you. I feel bad that I’ve neglected them.

“Look, you’re still the one. You know that. It’s because so much about you is real, and it makes me feel fulfilled in some strange way; but then we come to these roadblocks. I admit, sometimes I question whether our relationship is healthy. What do you think? Is talking to you like this healthy?”

In trying to get this manuscript to cooperate, the words ‘wits end’ are ringing in my ears.