Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Writer's Life

My editor leapt up onto my desk this morning as I was tapping away at chapter 25 of my wip, Murder on the Side. She's rather smug, you know, in a cute, annoying sort of way. She stuck her nose into the screen and said, "You misspelled 'intoxication'."

"I know," I replied, though I always try to use "said." "I can see the red squiggly underline. I'll get it later."

She twitched a whisker and turned back to the monitor. "What does 'XXXX' mean?"

I stifled my desire to sweep her off the desk. Mostly because that normally results in a long trail of claw marks in the pine. "That means I forgot that character's name and I'll fill it in later."

She read through the paragraph again. "Isn't he your protagonist?"

Well shoot me for having a poor memory. "Listen, can I just get through this chapter? I don't need editing until it's done."

Another whisker twitch. She read another paragraph, stood, stretched, and yawned. "I'd suggest a lot more usage of the 'delete' key."

Editors have a way of doing that. Not the editors sitting inside publishing houses, bless their kind souls. I mean the "as we write" editors. I used to do some computer aided design (CAD) work. I had a boss who knew nothing about it. She'd often walk up while I was working and ask what this line was for and that circle was for. The machine didn't look anything like that.

I'd point out that most of the lines on the screen were construction lines. They're put there to help me create my final box, circle, arc, whatever, to the exact specifications.

Writing is a lot like that. When I sit for my morning session, most of what hits the screen are "construction words." I may write something like "Fred ran slowly toward the river." Now I know that "ran slowly" will have to become something more writerly later on, like "trotted," but I have to get the story on the page. Like Stephen King says, it's all about the story. Fix the other stuff later.

I still need my editor, despite her self-righteous attitude and the fact that she sheds all over my suits hanging in the closet. But it's often necessary to sweep her away. A few claw marks won't kill me.


Heather said...

I'm learning to unstuck myself instead of getting caught up in the what should this character be named? or what is a more perfect way to describe this setting?
Especially when I'm on a roll. Can't break the roll!

:-)Ronie said...

Great post, Ron!! I loved it. You're so right. We need to turn off that internal editor and just let 'er rip! :-D

So missed you at conference!

Dineen A. Miller said...

Yeah, you need to get out for a little while, dude. Tell Kelly to take you out for a little while. There is life after writing...I promise.

Robin Cynclair said... know, the sad thing is, I can SO SEE you sitting there arguing with your clawed editor, Ron! LOL

Gina said...

Just one question. Why is your editor a girl?