We all know the cartoon image of the good angel versus the bad devil. The good angel is sweetly balanced on your right shoulder, all dressed in white, probably sporting wings and a halo may be involved. The bad devil is some pointy-nosed creature outfitted in red, possibly with a tail, planted solidly on your left shoulder. He has a pitchfork that he regularly stabs into the soft muscle just under the bone.
Personally, I never bought into this nonsense until I decided (in a fit of delusion) that what I needed to do was Write – with a capital W. I was going to whip a bunch of words into some delicious frothy concoction that would elicit gasps of joy or sobs of sadness from the reading public.
However, to my shock, I discovered that I have developed my own angel-devil situation—in the form of two Editors: the Good Editor and the Bad Editor—who have taken up residence on my shoulders. The good editor is kind and reassuring. She looks rather like my Aunt Eileen (who was a real character) complete with tweed skirt, pearls, slightly droopy stockings and sensible shoes. She serves me hot tea and shortbread, mentally of course, while she coos and aahs over every word I commit to paper. She tells me I have much talent and that I am destined for great heights. She whispers that I should never question myself—ever. She strokes each sheet of paper as it spits out of the printer and gently wipes away a tear at the beauty of the words.
Now, the bad editor is a perfectly horrid creature. He sprawls on my bony left shoulder, picking at his teeth and yawning loudly. He resembles no one I have ever met. This greasy-haired dude is dressed in a black velvet suit, black shiny shirt and purple tie. He could easily pass as a pimp. He studies every word I produce, laughing at the feebleness of it before belching in my ear. He sneers at my adjectives and makes me doubt my writing to the point that I want to simply hit Delete All and walk away. He constantly reminds me that this writing lark is a joke, something best left to professionals, those who have studied the craft. It must never be attempted by some wanna-be. His ridicule sews doubts deep in my mind. This makes him grin.
Each day, as I sit at my laptop, I try to summon up good editor. I want to hear her encouraging words and wallow in her approval while she fans me with my perfectly completed manuscript. But somehow, without fail, bad editor wanders in late and starts kicking up a stink.
How I want to drown him in a cup of hot tea!