Any other writer out there hate the sound of her own voice? I think I’m beginning to. Nothing I write feels quite good enough to post on the blog. I haven’t finished anything substantial in the last four or five days. I feel as if I’m talking to someone’s voicemail. Leaving one of those awful, garbled messages where you realise half way through that you sound like an idiot. Then you get tongue-tied and end up sounding even worse. Afterwards you discover you’d called the wrong person anyway. So you have to leave another message for the right person. That one’s even worse. At the end of it all two people are left thinking you’ve lost the plot. Not including yourself of course. Because you knew all along that you never had it in the first place.
Yesterday I got home from the shops with a right royal rant in mind. I was no more than three sentences in when The Editor arrived. She sat down at the keyboard. Elbowed me aside. Not so much as an apology for being late. You can’t rant when The Editor’s in charge. Ranting’s uncontrolled. The Editor’s a control freak. She excises adverbs. Pares sentences to the bone. Questions hyperbole. OK, I threatened to decapitate the owner of that dog. Was it really so unreasonable? It took twenty minutes to clean the sh*t off my shoe.
The Editor’s really good at taking the steam out of my sails. The sting out of my tale. The purple out of my prose. She also hates clichés. So have some of that. I was all ready to rant about social justice. Or the lack of it. I ended up sounding like a slightly bored Anglican vicar. No offence to any Anglican vicar. It’s just that preaching in the same church for forty years tends to leave you a little short of inspiration. At least I imagine it must. I’ve never tried it.
The Editor is a perfectionist. A tyrant of the first order. She’s been through all this more than once already. Nit-picking. She trawls my work in search of minute flaws. When she finds one she pounces. There you are. You’re rubbish. Why don’t you quit? Now. Give up giving up. Put the telly on. And while you’re about it, get a proper job. Stacking shelves in Tesco’s. Well away from the wine section. Who are you trying to kid? There’s better prose in the instructions for a Pot Noodle. At least I assume there is. I’ve never read them.
The Editor clock-watches. Does word counts. Spell checks. Drinks endless cups of coffee. Pokes my achy shoulder. Looks at Facebook. Finds a fascinating news item. Needs the loo. Wonders if she’ll sleep after all that caffeine. Reads everything I write out loud. Again. Boils the kettle. Deletes a paragraph. Re-inserts it. Forgets to make the coffee. Thinks she should drink something else. Makes coffee anyway. She frets about what people will think of my writing. Tells me not to worry. No-one’s going to read it anyway. Then seizes on a sloppily-constructed sentence and tears it to shreds. If all else fails, she’ll start thinking in poetry. Then I know I’m doomed.
But sometimes. Just once in a blue moon … Get off. I’m having that one. Leave my clichés alone, dammit … She’ll come up with something rather wonderful. Something that leaves my unruly, ranting butterfly-brain open mouthed in awe. And I suppose … yes, I’m having this cliché as well … that’s what makes the rest of it worthwhile.