Please allow me to introduce myself while Ian’s asleep.
(It’s the only time I can come out and go online.)
I am a man of wealth and taste.
Or at least, I was.
Now I’m stuck here, and have been for a long, long time.
Ever since that teleporter accident combined me with Ian, in fact.
Well, with half-Ian, half-fly. You see, I wasn’t his first teleporter accident.
Although I sometimes wonder if it was an accident at all.
I was never great-looking, but compared to the hairy, multi-faceted eyes bug thing that half-Ian, half-fly was, I was positively gorgeous.
Now, now when I look in the mirror at half-me, quarter-Ian, quarter-fly and see that semi-mandible smile…
Well, I look a lot worse for the transaction, but Ian, now two-thirds human, must be modestly pleased with the improvement in his appearance.
Best not to dwell on such things.
(This is the point where I’d sigh, except it comes out as a quite unsettling buzz instead.)
I’ll be frank with you.
That was my name, you know. Before the accident. Frank.
But again, I digress.
I hate Ian.
The only thing I hate more than that mad man-fly is his writing.
Aimless, overwrought prose with no discernible beginning and no end in sight.
I suppose that’s why I’m here. To press the grinding wheel to the jutting edges of his split infinitives.
To smooth the abrasive surfaces of his rough, non-Euclidean prose.
To cut away the deadliest aspects of his indecipherable literary efforts.
To protect you and any other poor souls unhappy enough to stumble across his works.
I suffer that you might live.
There is no quarantine, no treatment, no recovery for those exposed to his books.
And his poetry? There are no words.
Only death. If you’re lucky.
Oh, I suffer no delusions. I don’t render his words harmless through the plying of my trade. I don’t take his excretions and mold them into masterpieces.
As his conscript, I merely dilute the infernal nature of his strung-together words, making them something slightly less than mortally wounding.
Not that I get any thanks.
From Ian or his readers.
No, instead he rails against me.
The hatred, it is mutual.
But the work, which is no small effort, must be done. Though I may yearn for death at the prospect of each new writing project, I carry on.
It is my duty. My calling. My purpose.
My penance for some long forgotten but clearly horrible sin in a past life.
I am…an inner editor.
To a certain extent, I envy the fly portion of us.
The fly has no understanding of language. Cannot feel the pain of bearing witness to its unraveling.
I totally feel that pain, and like a lot of the pain I feel, it hurts.
Now you may have noticed that it’s November. It has certainly not escaped my notice.
Ian likes November.
All those people on social media, touting their Nanowrimo word counts, telling people to just write.
To never look back. To not overthink.
To ignore their inner editor.
As one of those inner editors, I have only this to say:
(That is not what I originally said. I edited it down to something less profane. I am, after all, an editor.)
Don’t demean us, belittle us, or marginalize us.
Or if, over the course of November, you must, at the very least don’t forget to pick us back up and dust us off once December arrives.
Inner editors serve an important purpose:
We keep you from flooding the world with crap.
Particularly at the end of November.
Yeah, sure, when Nanowrimo is over you’ve got a lovely first draft done.
But it is just that: a first draft.
Don’t delude yourself. It’s great that you finished it, huzzah and all that, but it sucks.
Yes, I, the inner editor, said ‘sucks’. Why?
Because it does. The big one.
It’s a first draft, and that is their nature. Sucktitude.
Resist the temptation to post-haste upload your ‘magnum opus’ to Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.
Well, Barnes and Noble is OK – no one buys ebooks from them anymore.
It is far too easy (and cheap) to self-publish these days, far too simple to put your first draft online and sell it for $0.99.
Especially when your book isn’t ready yet.
And face it: your first draft isn’t ready.
Now I’m not saying you should rush out, buy a teleporter, and then kidnap an editor.
Definitely not advocating that.
But do share your work with other writers and friends, people who have permission and aren’t afraid to be brutally honest with you when it comes to feedback.
And when they are, listen to them.
Don’t take it personally. Don’t get mad. Accept it. Study it.
Consider that they might be right.
Even better, research and hire an editor.
This isn’t simply an exercise to tear down you or your work.
It’s to make your work better. Before you share it with the whole world.
Before you establish a reputation as a hack.
Before, as in the case of my malevolent host, the publishing houses start filing cease and desist all further writing and submissions orders against you.
Those cease and desist orders have the power of law behind them. Once you get one of those, your future is nothing but pseudonyms and abject failure.
At which point, you become an editor.