It could be the title of one of those B-rated horror flicks, you know? The ones that come on at four AM and feature such film notables as creaking, slow-opening closets, dark, dank passageways, the requisite barn in the distance where wannabe victims seem to gravitate, and at least one female whose breasts bounce when she runs screaming into the night.
Usually she’s the first one to open the closet, venture down the passageway, and head straight for the barn and the axe-murderer lurking there.
One of these days I’ll write a horror novel using that premise: the two warring halves, a Jekyll/Hyde, only with keyboards and trackball mice instead of knives and potions.
Here’s the thing: I function daily with two halves of my whole warring with each other for dominance. One, the demanding Editor who’s anal as all-get-out. My other half, the creative Author, just wants to do things her way, and surprise! She’s also anal. Sometimes I can get Char A and Char E to behave and work together. Other days it’s a real comedy of errors:
Char A: Oh, this scene is perfect! It’s exactly the way I want it!
Char E (sniffing in disdain): I just read your hot mess. You used ‘that’ twice in the same sentence. Your description of the initial sex scene is appalling—I can’t even picture a body part bending at such an angle. And you wrote ‘her nibbles peppled,’ you dyslexic fiend.
Char A (lower lip quivering): Stop yelling at me! You’re just mean!
Char E: Stop echoing on exclamation points immediately.
Char A: But—but—they’re only in my mind! I didn’t put them down on paper!
Char E: Doesn’t matter because you’re a twit.
And on it goes.
Authors who also edit will have their good days right along with the bad, the indifferent, and the Oh-God-I-Want-To-Shoot-Myself-For-Even-Thinking-It moments. Because we perform our editing jobs often alongside our own writing projects, we have to be careful the two worlds don’t collide or bleed into each other. It’s one of the reasons I try not to edit the same genre as I write, although sometimes it can’t be helped. Usually I schedule my writing days as far away from my editing duties as I can, because I value my sanity.
That doesn’t solve my own internal collision as Editor squares off with Author in The Mighty Mosh Pit of Wordage. Also known as my latest manuscript.
Author Char can bop along at a nice clip, getting those words out, building that scene, that chapter, those characters. Pages of it, flowing from her fingers onto the white screen of Untitled Document. Oh, Happy Happy Joy Joy! Then, she does a very stupid thing: she allows Editor Char in, usually because she has become distracted by the need for chocolate or she just stops typing and *gasp* Reads Her Own Words.
Uh-oh. Big mistake, boy howdy.
Editor Char is now in the driver’s seat and she’s a ruthless little so-and-so, especially when it comes to her Other Half. She can pick apart a chapter before Author Char can even unwrap that Hershey bar. In the blink of an eye she’s ripped half the scene away, stomped out most of the imagery, and flattened either Hero or Heroine—depending on which one offends her the most. Author Char is left with the dregs of a chapter she once smiled upon in glee, clutching melting chocolate in her trembling hand. And while she’s still huddled in the corner of her creativity, Editor Char has taken over the keyboard completely because according to her schedule, she’s got a first-round edit and two final galleys to work on in the next week.
Bye-Bye, Untitled Document, until further notice.
It’s probably just as well, because Author Char’s got to get her game on and come up with better ways to make Editor Char happy. No easy feat, I guarantee. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?
Most of the time my halves work in harmony, blending their abilities when necessary and making each better. It might take me longer to get that manuscript written to the satisfaction of both A and E, but when it’s done it’s damned clean and pretty. Even if I have gone insane in the process.
Then again, this is a crazy business, suitable for only a select few. It’s like baseball; if it were easy, then everyone would do it.
Such is the dual life of the Author/Editor. Madness prevails.
Or, that could just be me.
Uh-oh, I just rhymed. I’d better backspace that out, before Char E comes after me, with Track Changes fully engaged.
She’d do it, you know. She’s the crazy one.