Thanks to the protest, Mia didn’t get much writing done that day. Unfortunately, no free dinners, shrimp or otherwise, were to be found, and Mia found herself munching on pretzels and frozen grapes as she worked on the next scene in her novel. Alaina was nowhere to be found, and her characters felt even farther away. The problem that day wasn’t with the lack of anything to write about, like with Writer’s Block.
“No, that doesn’t sound right,” Mia said as she backspaced an entire paragraph. “That’s terrible! Amy would never say something like that.” Mia tried again, typing the same line of dialogue with some subtle changes, then reread it. “Ewww,” Mia said. “That just sounds cheesy, and what’s she trying to do anyway? Hit on coffee shop boy?” She backspaced the paragraph again, this time hitting the backspace key more furiously than the time before.
A figure walked up to Mia. She had dark brown hair pulled back into a tight bun and wore a white blouse, a plaid skirt, pantyhose, and black heels. Mia was about to comment on this woman’s fashion sense and ask why she was dressed in a school uniform when the woman adjusted her glasses and sat down next to Mia and opened one of the books in her arms.
“Good afternoon,” the woman said. Mia noticed that she wasn’t a Wrimo. Why was it that the people who approached her first were usually the ones she never wanted to see? No, that was a lie. Alaina was the best person she had never met, and her characters weren’t all that bad either. But the others…
“Who are you?” Mia asked, looking at the book the woman had opened. It was a small gray paperback, and Mia saw the words The Elements of Style on the spine.
“I am your inner editor,” the woman replied.
“My inner editor?” Mia asked. “What are you doing here? I thought I banished you for the month.” She thought back to October, when everyone had told her how to banish the inner editor.
“Oh no,” Inner Editor replied. “They like to make you think you can get rid of me. The truth is that you never can. I lurk in dark alleyways, waiting until you’re the most vulnerable, and catch you when you’re trying to write. I wait until you’re already behind on your word count and struggling to write. I bring you down.” Inner Editor closed the book and folded her hands over the stack of books.
“But they told me you were sometimes good,” Mia said. “Just bad now.”
“Of course I’m bad now,” Inner Editor replied, smirking. “You’re supposed to let your creativity free and just write. But society has brainwashed you to believe that everything has to be perfect. There is no room for creativity in normal society.” Inner Editor cackled and adjusted her skirt. “Society has told you that this creative floundering you’re doing this month is completely useless, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to tell you that.” Mia nodded. Inner Editor surely wasn’t the first person to tell her that. “So I sneak in and do what I can to sabotage your efforts to enjoy a month of pure creation, especially when that pesky muse is nowhere to be found.”
Mia looked around. This was getting a bit worrisome; Alaina hadn’t shown up in several days, but she had to do something.
“Oh no,” Inner Editor said, laughing. “Alaina won’t be able to kill me. She couldn’t kill Writer’s Block, just banish him from the area for the time being. He’ll be back. You have to make me go all on your own, Mia.” Inner Editor laughed again. “Now write. Go on, give it a try.”
“Look, Inner Editor, I know what happens next,” Mia told her. “Amy’s meeting Coffee Shop Boy right now at Brenda’s coffee shop and finding out that he’s also an artist, and in fact he knows Cole. Then Amy–”
Inner Editor laughed. “Nice try, Mia,” she said. “Spewing your whole story on me works well for Writer’s Block, but he’s not here for such elementary techniques. You have to do something more mature for me.”
Mia sighed. That was all she knew. She looked around. The nearest forum to her was the Shoutouts forum, followed by the word wars forum. She could walk a bit to get to the myriad genre forums, but she didn’t really want to talk about her regular mainstream story right now. Or was it chick lit? she thought to herself? Yeah, I think it’s a bit more chick lit. But even if I did, I don’t see how genre’s going to scare the Inner Editor away. She didn’t want to express how scared she was to the Inner Editor, but finally she gulped.
“Go on,” Inner Editor said. “I want you to write something for me.”
Mia sat at her laptop and looked at the paragraph she was working on, and finally she began to type. “Wait, you’re an artist?” Amy asked. “Where do you show your work?” Mia read this sentence aloud to the Inner Editor, and Inner Editor laughed.
“You call that a piece of dialogue?” Inner Editor asked. “Here, let me show you how it’s done.” Inner Editor wrote that sentence in the air. “You see that? That’s not how Amy would talk at all. It would never just occur to her that Coffee Shop Boy–what did you name him again, Mia?–is also an artist, and then ask him where he shows his art. No, she’d wonder something else. She’d work it in casually, smoothly, and then get on the subject of other artists. She has more shame than other people, you see,” Inner Editor finished. “Like you, apparently.”
Mia looked down. “Like me?” Mia asked.
“Clearly,” Inner Editor asked. “Remember the time in college when you got drunk and your friend dared you to kiss this guy you liked?”
Mia nodded. She remembered that quite well. A little too well, to be honest, but the memories were still there. She had partied a little too hard that night, and her friend, also a bit tipsy, said, “Mia, you should tooooootally kiss Matt.”
Mia replied, “Why should I? He’s way over there, and I don’t think I can make it that far.” She tried taking a few steps. Her sense of direction was fine, but she had lied and said her sense of direction was worse than it was.
“No, you totally should,” the friend said. “I’ll even help you over there.” The friend and Mia walked over toward Matt, and halfway there Mia got out of the friend’s reach and yelled “I can walk myself!” Mia arrived in front of Matt.
“Hi, Mia,” Matt said. Mia said nothing but kissed him on the lips and walked away. They never talked to each other again.
“Damn, it was graduation day, wasn’t it?” Mia asked. “I doubt he even remembers me. I should put that in my novel.”
“Why?” Inner Editor asked. “Amy wouldn’t do that at all.”
“Oh no, she wouldn’t,” Mia replied. “But someone else might. I may as well use my own experiences for good, right? And besides, sometimes a person’s stories can surprise you. Look at mine.”
Inner Editor was taken aback by this. She couldn’t believe that someone was trying to tell her how to act.
“Well, fine then,” Inner Editor said. “Let’s look at the line previous.”
The line previous? That was a rather old-fashioned way of speaking. Inner Editor showed Mia the last line she had written. “More horrid trash,” Inner Editor mumbled as she butchered it to pieces with red ink. “Do you even know the meaning of the backspace key?”
“Yeah, I’ve used it far too much today,” Mia explained. “Why do you think you showed up here in the first place?”
Inner Editor shook her head. “Nonsense,” she explained. “Look at this. You can’t even spell THE. Teh? That’s Internet talk. It belongs on 4chan, not in a novel.”
“I’m trying to write a novel, not proofread it,” Mia said. “Just let me keep going, okay?”
Inner Editor ignored her and kept going over the entire day’s work. Mia had had enough.
“Brenda’s going to get with Coffee Boy!” Mia yelled, even though she had no intention of this happening. Inner Editor jumped.
“You don’t mean it, do you?” Inner Editor said. “Surely not.”
“Of course not, but it gave you quite a jump,” Mia replied. “Besides, they’re completely incompatible. Brenda’s way too flighty for coffee shop boy.”
“Well, something needs to happen to coffee shop boy,” Inner Editor said. “Otherwise he’s just a red herring, and you know you can’t have one of those in a chick lit story.”
“I’ll do whatever the hell I want in my story, thank you very much,” Mia replied. “You can come back in December when you’re wanted, but for now, I declare you to be gone from my life.”
“Gone? Nonsense,” Inner Editor said as she flipped through the Elements of Style again. “You can’t be rid of me at all.”
“Well, you know what?” Mia asked. Inner Editor turned to Mia, saying nothing. “Come with me.”
“It depends on where you’re taking me,” Inner Editor replied.
“Oh, here,” Mia said. She reached into her bag and grabbed a piece of cloth, then blindfolded Inner Editor. She spun Inner Editor around a few times.
“Stop it!” Inner Editor shrieked.
“You know you like it,” Mia replied.
“But I’m getting dizzy,” Inner Editor replied. “It’s so much harder to nitpick people’s literature when you’re dizzy.”
“I know, that’s why I’m doing it,” Mia told her.
“I can’t see anything!” Inner Editor wrote something else in the air (The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs, a perfectly grammatically correct sentence) and looked at it. “I can’t see what I just wrote!”
“Good!” Mia said. “Now come with me.” Mia took Inner Editor’s hand and led her across Wrimonia until they arrived at the Word Wars forum.
Inner Editor could hear everyone typing and chatting, but she couldn’t see what was going on. She couldn’t see that everyone else in here was either a Wrimo, a muse, a character, or BattleJesus. Mia had seen an Inner Editor or two in here, but they never lasted long.
“Welcome to the forum,” Mia said. “You’ll like it here.”
“Oh no,” Inner Editor said, cringing. “You didn’t bring me here, did you?”
“Depends on where here is,” Mia replied.
“That place. That place where people write and don’t even bother to think about whether it’s right or not.” Inner Editor stopped to think about what would happen to her if she stayed in her for too long. What would she do if surrounded by such creativity? Would the bun in her hair catch on fire? She had never tried anything like this before?
“Trust me, it’ll do you some good to let your hair down,” Mia told her. “Now come on and let’s explore. We can find a lot in here.” Mia pushed the door to the forum open and found the fifteen minute word war thread.
“Fifteen minutes, please,” Mia said. BattleJesus led her to the outside of the forum, where Wrimos were warring on eraser benches. “Just you, ma’am?” BattleJesus asked.
“No!” Inner Editor shrieked. “Not him! Please, not… BattleJesus.”
“Oh yes,” Mia replied. “It’s BattleJesus.”
“We have a history,” Inner Editor said. “He keeps telling me that writing for the sake of creativity is a good thing. I keep telling him that getting it right is better. We’ve never agreed on this.”
“Sixty seconds until word war begins,” BattleJesus said. Inner Editor sat on the ground, rocking. “Go!” BattleJesus shot the word gun into the air. One word fell on Inner Editor’s head. Mia saw it as she started to type. “Creativity.” The word seeped into Inner Editor’s bun and the bun fell loose.
“Noooooo!” Inner Editor yelled as she ran away from Mia. “Not creativity!” She turned to Mia on her way out. “I’ll be back.”
“I bet you will,” Mia said as she wrote.
I think we all know the Inner Editor, whether you’re a writer or not. This is how I picture my own inner editor. Unfortunately, now she’s back in style and not letting me edit. I think they call that procrastination, though.
Feel free to link this on your blog, Twitter, whatever. Just don’t pass this off as your own, and we’re cool.
I highly encourage you to donate to the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit organization that runs NaNoWriMo, if you enjoy this tale of noveling madness. If you donate in the new year, your donor goodies will appear in the month before the event you donate to (NaNoWriMo or Script Frenzy).
If for some strange reason you’re really into giving money to Internet strangers who write somewhat humorous things, I won’t complain. You can do that at the link below.