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IWSG: Driving A Story Off A Cliff

December 5, 2012

InsecureWritersSupportGroupHere we are at the first Wednesday of the month and it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to pull our virtual chairs into a circle and discuss our anxieties. If you want to be a part of our great group, and join Alex J. Cavanaugh in commiserating about all the trials we Insecure Writers endure, click on this linky and join us! I’ve been posting with this fabulous group for almost a year now, and knowing that I am not alone in my insecurities and fears has made a huge difference on how I view this writing obsession of mine.

This month I was certain I would be posting an uplifting story about how winning NaNoWriMo has boosted my self-confidence, how much fun I had writing my story, and how I feel so much more a part of the tribe of writers.

Well, that lasted for about a day.

Then my Inner Editor, who’d I’d sent on a month-long imaginary shopping spree to spruce up her already stunning wardrobe, returned. It didn’t take her long to unpack all the designer duds out of her matching luggage and to add her latest acquisitions to a shoe collection that rivals that of the infamous Imelda Marcos.

She settles in quickly and makes a cup of coffee, black because extra calories do nothing for the hips.

“What have you got for me?” she says. Her desktop is one of those glass ones that only the high-powered executives with nothing to do except schedule meetings have, with only a phone, an expensive pen, and a vase of flowers on it.

I hand her my newly minted first draft manuscript, and she proceeds to look it over.Red Lipstick

“I see that  you wrote yourself in again,” she says as she flips through the first few pages. Her coral-colored lips, the latest Chanel shade, are pursed as she points out the first of what are certainly many strategic missteps on my road to literary abandon.

“Umm … yes,” I reply. “I needed to get into my protagonist’s head,” I add helpfully.

“Have you ever met an adverb you didn’t like?” She turns another page.

“Rarely,” I say and clap my hand over my mouth as I realize I’ve released yet another adverb.

“And what’s this?” She taps a perfectly manicured coral fingernail on the title of a chapter. “A Side Trip to Exalta City?”

“It’s a tour. Of the city where part of the story takes place.”

She pulls out her red pen, a Cross limited edition. “Does it move the story forward?”

“No, I suppose not. But I needed to see what things looked like,” I try to explain. “I might be a discovery writer.”

She frowns, looks annoyed, and goes to the next chapter. “You know, some people write their novels according to a plan. Scenes, character arcs, plotting …”

“So did I!” I reply (defensively.) “I just got sidetracked a lot.”

Question Mark-Red“I can see that. What’s with all this squid? This is a fantasy novel, isn’t it? Why is there squid on the menu for dinner, lunch, and breakfast?”

“Oh that.” I blush. “It was a dare.”

“A dare?”

“To see if I could figure out a way to include a squid in my story.”

“Tell me,” she says and tries to wrinkle her botox-enhanced forehead. “Why is it that you routinely insist on driving a perfectly good story off a cliff?”

I chew my unfashionably un-coral-colored lip. “Because it’s fun?”

“Aha.” She twirls her red pen between her elegant fingers. “Some Nano novels actually do find publishers. Did you ever consider that writing something this bad will never get you published?”

“Well, I was hoping you could help me whip this into shape.”

“Perhaps …” She pulls out her reading glasses, Christian Dior, and begins to pay attention. I dare say she looks interested in what she’s reading.

“Anything worth keeping?” I ask.Exclamation Point -Red

“Who’s this Lyra woman? I haven’t read about her in your outline.”

“She was a surprise.”

“Any other surprises?”

“A few. Some were good though. I think … ”

She smirks. “I’ll be the judge of that.” She pats the comfy chair, and motions me to get the blanket.

“You’re not going to quit are you? Is this story worth saving?”

She smiles a perfunctory smile, the kind the doctor has when he tells you that you’re getting older, and to expect a new ache now and then. “That’s why you pay me the big imaginary paycheck isn’t it?”

I’m so glad the Inner Editor and I have this worked out.

How about you, Insecure Writers? Has your Inner Editor gotten his or her hands on your Nano yet? Do you write from an outline? Do you prefer coral or ruby-red lipstick?Red Lipstick


Images courtesy of  Jordan McCullough @ Big Stock, Jean Scheijen, and ‘Widiwidi’ @ Stock.xchng

  1. December 5, 2012 2:44 am

    Love it! You’re so good at this! 🙂

    • December 5, 2012 7:19 pm

      Hi Wendy,
      It means so much to me you get a kick out of my weird stuff!
      Thank you. 🙂

  2. December 5, 2012 4:00 am

    Love this post! I love how your inner editor is like a perfectionist from the fashion scene. A perfectionist. That’s how I read it anyway.

    My inner editor is pretty easy on me. My rough draft was so bad, that it was mainly just scenery with no story.A discovery writer sounds appropriate for me as well. Anyways, love your work! Good luck and enjoy your holidays. Cheers

    • December 5, 2012 7:23 pm

      My inner editor is the perfect image I can never achieve, so I guess it makes sense that she has the perfect wardrobe I can’t afford. 🙂
      I’m glad you liked the post–us discovery writers have got to stick together! We could have a special section in the Insecure Writer’s Group: Insecure Discovery Writers.

      Happy Holidays!

  3. December 5, 2012 5:49 am

    I Love this review of your NaNo! I also love your inner editor. She’s much cooler than mine 🙂

    • December 5, 2012 7:26 pm

      Hi Rebecca,
      I’ll definitely tell her that–she’ll get a kick out of that! 😉 I’m glad you liked the post.

  4. December 5, 2012 8:12 am

    LOL xD This is great. I love it!

    IWSG #145 until Alex culls the list again. 🙂

    • December 5, 2012 7:34 pm

      Thanks, Melissa!
      Coming down from NaNo euphoria to realize my story needs work is tough, but I’m getting some perspective on the editing process I didn’t have before.

  5. December 5, 2012 9:19 am

    Brilliant list honey 🙂

    My inner editor is a bit more like Animal from The Muppets….very scary and I really don’t understand a word he’s saying 😉


    • December 5, 2012 9:20 am

      See what I mean! That was suppose to say “brilliant post” lol


    • December 5, 2012 7:36 pm

      🙂 So true.
      My inner editor got a lot more articulate as I started doing critiques, where both honesty and kindness are required. ‘She’ still rants, but she does it in a polite tone of voice. 😉

  6. December 5, 2012 9:36 am

    Heh. Hilarious! I’m fortunate that I can usually turn off the editor when I need to. My problem more frequently occurs with self-doubt, who is also a terrible villain. I need to check out that Linky you suggested.

    • December 5, 2012 7:38 pm

      Self-doubt is the inner editor’s evil twin!
      Do check out the link. This isn’t like the other blog hops. I’ve gotten so much support and great advice from this group I don’t know where I’d be without them. 🙂
      And it’s fun.

  7. December 5, 2012 9:55 am

    It’s scary really. I am my inner editor—very exacting—and I have a muse. Several muses.

    • December 5, 2012 7:42 pm

      Sounds crowded! 😉
      I absolutely can’t edit and create at the same time. It’s downright weird, because I make language mistakes (things like it’s/its, their/there) that I would never make in my normal writing life, but that slip right through the cracks in story writing mode, in addition to all the faux pas I mentioned in my post.
      So I need Ms. Editor to come in and mop up ..

  8. December 5, 2012 6:52 pm

    I don’t let that inner editor see a manuscript until the first draft is done! That’s tough, but this Ninja always wins the battle.

    • December 5, 2012 7:48 pm

      I know exactly what you mean. During the writing I always feel certain I’m making a huge mess of things!
      Fortunately, I’ve almost always been pleasantly surprised once I do crack it open for the revisions. Knowing that makes it much easier to get through the first draft.

  9. December 5, 2012 9:12 pm

    haha you Had me laughing non-stop at squid. As for lipstick, ruby red. When I start a new draft I have to wear red lipstick. As for revision, I’m lucky if I remember to look human! Your first draft sounds like there is lots of juicy stuff for you to sink your teeth into during revision!

    • December 6, 2012 10:13 pm

      I remember reading that about you now–so you’re the lipstick-wearing writer. Very cool way to tell your muse it’s writing time!
      I have a lot of editing ahead of me, but I look forward to it. 🙂

  10. December 5, 2012 11:01 pm

    Ack! Your internal editor is intimidating. I don’t know if I could write with her around. Eeeck. My internal editor is a tubby man shorter than me by a hand span with a bald spot and a clear inability to jog a mile. He looks like a sweet uncle, but really he’s ruthless. He prefers backhanded compliments.

    And as for my NaNo, I haven’t read a word of it yet. It has to stew first. I try not to read the drafts while I’m still in love with them. The glamour that hides the typos lasts for about 3 to 4 months for me…

    • December 6, 2012 10:16 pm

      Yup, my Inner Editor is a tough cookie. But we’re working it out.
      I’m going to put the Nano away till after the holidays. Too much going on right now to apply the kind of focus this story will need.

  11. December 5, 2012 11:46 pm

    You sure that this isn’t just an excerpt from your actual NaNo project? It sure sounds like the beginning of a good story to me 🙂 I love your story telling.

    • December 6, 2012 10:18 pm

      Thanks, Peter. That’s so nice of you to say. But my Nano is really a fantasy novel, no Chanel couture in sight!

  12. T.F.Walsh permalink
    December 6, 2012 4:11 am

    My inner editor is so hard to control. she insists on having a say. I tend to use loud music when I write NaNo to shut her up:)

    • December 6, 2012 10:22 pm

      Oh yes! That might be the case with this lovely editor of mine as well. She prefers silence so she can chatter in my ear about Oxford commas and misplaced pronouns. A good melody will drown her right out. 🙂

  13. December 7, 2012 2:35 am

    Hey Kirsten,

    I am seriously forwarding this post on to my editor and friend. She will get a kick out of your awesome post and I will hope she never gets a desk like the above 🙂

    Well done, you and CONGRATS about winning NaNooooooo!

    • December 7, 2012 6:42 pm

      You want to know the coolest thing? I am 100% excited about you sharing my post with someone! Insecurity? What insecurity?
      Gotta love that IWSG.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it–I had fun writing it. 🙂

  14. December 10, 2012 6:01 am

    She really wants the best for you, you know (your Inner Editor, I mean). I kind of like her, even though she scares me to death. I suppose I am a bit like her when it comes to correct other people’s work…

    • December 10, 2012 9:33 am

      Hi Marina!
      That’s exactly it. I really want to be perfect like her, even though I know in my heart I never will be!
      I’ll never stop trying though. 🙂

  15. December 10, 2012 6:01 am

    Or even ‘correcting’. See what I mean – I really need to use her more on my own work!

  16. December 17, 2012 8:11 pm

    Your inner editor is scary-fabulous! Mine is more of a fat guy who lives in a house in which everything is brown, and he has some unkempt facial hair. He’s just getting around to helping me with Grove, but it’s going well. He’s highly critical, but his suggestions are aces. I will try to keep Starsand from becoming buried under pizza boxes.

    • December 17, 2012 9:58 pm

      Don’t you just love the Inner Editor? Yours sounds like quite a difficult fellow as well!


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