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A Homicidal Cheerleader

I thought my inner editor might be on strike after I wrote that she was a “monster” in my previous post.  I knew she was still around when she let me know she was annoyed by my first choice of a title for this post.

“I’m not a ‘psychotic cheerleader’,” she told me.

OK, maybe calling her a psychotic cheerleader was a bit dramatic. Then I recalled the quote that has become the mantra of many writers:

“…kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
(Stephen King, Arthur Quiller-Couch, William Faulkner—take your pick)

Stephen King, William Faulkner, Arthur Quiller-Couch

Kill your darlings

Of course, “your darlings” are those things you’ve written that you love or you are immensely proud of, but they’re unnecessary baggage weighing down the story you’re telling. And who gets to kill these darlings? The inner editor, of course.  I realized that my inner editor wasn’t a psychotic cheerleader. She was a homicidal cheerleader. And the darlings she wanted to kill weren’t always mine.

I got my first inkling of her problem when I read Anita Grace Howard’s post about “silencing your internal editor”. I knew my editor had become my cheerleader; she was very proud of our efforts. I also knew that she’d become critical of other’s writing, the way a proud, doting mother is critical of other people’s children.

But it wasn’t until I read a children’s mystery novel with my daughter that I became aware of  my editor’s homicidal tendencies. My editor was a seething after the first page. She tried to keep her mutterings to herself; we didn’t want to influence D³.

I knew my editor was out of control when she sliced and diced Hemingway. And her problem was affecting me. How would I ever enjoy reading again? How could I ever let anyone read anything I’ve written, knowing their editor was slicing and dicing me?

I read Anita’s post again and take heart, deciding to follow her advice and let myself “get lost in the story”. I just make sure my editor naps during reading time. Anita’s advice works, and I enjoy reading again. And my inner editor loses some of her edginess thanks to the extra sleep.

I think things are back to normal. My editor indulges in an occasional outburst when I read something written by someone else, but for the most part she’s very docile. That is, until I open a certain book and begin to read. Then my editor cannot be silenced. When the god-like, angelic, hunky antagonist speaks in a musical voice she loses her mind. I ought to close the book so I can chase down my inner editor and take the ax from her determined grip before she kills someone.

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15 comments on “A Homicidal Cheerleader

  1. Another great post. I enjoyed reading your blog today.

    We love meeting new excited writers.

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  2. I am an engineer by training that now has to write (OK, technical crap, but still, the style editors are out there looking things over). What I do is not primarily entertaining but in telling a story, albeit a boring one with rules, regulations and OMG, legaleeze stuff, you OTOH are a writer that is trying to confabulate as you put it; inform and entertain. Do what i do, when something I see writen by someone else gives me a shudder as for showing me in no other way but to humiliate my style, I smirk, mutter to myself that the writers spouse ghost wrote the piece. Then I do the equivalent of dumpster diving. I purloin phrases, hiding the meaty nuggets in my own contorted way, so there are no lingering measures of thier work, morphing them into my own.

    When younger I made the mistake of waiting for the praise, but found that was like a rainstorm in the sahara. Now I dont give a rats ass, I just move on to the next task.

    Bend when you must, move when you can, and in the end enjoy it all.

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    • Actually I’ve found that reading something I think is awful inspires me to improve my writing.

      I do enjoy it all (when I’m not taking myself too seriously and fretting that I will NEVER remember all the comma rules).

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  3. It’s not often I read posts about the struggle writers have with their inner editor. These posts are wonderful (though I know I’m a bit behind on all of your posts).

    You are exorcising something profound here. Something that will allow you to maintain that rare balance between creativity and objectivity. I know it. Well, at least I feel it.

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  4. Oh my gosh. Your Inner Editor is Buffy Summers!

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  5. Your inner and outer editor’s are a mobius strip, one side replacing the other as time winds around it.

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  6. Can you come out today and confabulate?

    Your readers have started looking at the daytime soaps, and they are soooo boring.

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