Writing: creator versus editoron November 18th, 2011 at 6:10 am
I think all writers have two parts within: an editor and a creator. Often, the two work in synergy to produce writing you’re happy with. Sometimes, though, the two seem mutually incompatible.
The creator, as I call it, is the part of me that’s inspired (by the muse, you could say) – that has many and varied ideas, some crazy, some wonderful; that gets carried away in a particular vein; that can write for hours if the mood is right; that, if trusted, can transform the direction of a character, a setting, a scene, an entire book. The creator is the fun part of writing; the magical part. But it sometimes has a mind of its own and is rather difficult to control! To get in touch with the creative part of me, I go for long walks in the countryside; I sit in the garden and take in the scents and colours and chirping birds in the garden; I take a long, hot bath and picture scenarios; I read a romance novel or watch a theatrical film like Gone with the Wind and let my mind drift…
But then comes the editor part of me. The editor is organised and careful and methodical and, to be honest, a bit of a hindrance at times. The editor says, ‘This chapter’s too long’, or ‘Very poetic, but do people really speak like that?’, or ‘But why is she angry with him?’, or ‘You’ve gone off on a tangent, Hannah, get back to the plan’. The editor has me research a book meticulously, produce an outline and a very detailed chapter by chapter synopsis, and then, when I’m finished a chapter, I must read it through at least three times for corrections. Yes, it’s less fun than dreaming and bashing away at the keyboard as ideas flood my mind, but I recognise that the editor needs to reign me in at times, and ensure structure and consistency and logic amid my flights of fancy.
At times, a novel feels like a battleground – creator wrestling with editor over her required changes or instructions. But when the two work well together, that’s when the book really comes together. So, on this dreary November afternoon, I set upon my desk: for the creator, a lit aromatherapy candle, a stereo playing Placido Domingo, and a vase of bright flowers; and for the editor, a sheaf of papers outlining plot and characters, a clock, a dictionary and a cup of strong coffee. And, together, we write.