Internal Editor

Where do I even begin with what needs to be said? Fingers pressed to my forehead, I contemplate all the words I know are inside of me and try to figure out how to edit them before they make their way onto the page. Or once they do make it onto the page I hit the “delete” key until what is left is nothing like what needs to be said.

Here’s the thing: I want to be a writer. Here’s the problem: My internal editor says I’m crap. And I believe her.

From stream-of-consciousness to word association, I’ve tried all the ways to turn my brain off and turn the writing on, but it’s never just… easy. Listen – I know writing isn’t easy. It takes time to hone your craft. It takes getting told “no” ninety-nine times before you’re told “yes”. It takes finding honest readers who will tell you your writing is crap and then give you suggestions on how to fix it. However, it would be nice to even get words on the page, to begin with, to get to those stages. Even now as I write this, I’m thinking of all the things I need to do before bedtime rolls around and I have to get ready to go to work tomorrow. Therein lies part of my problem.

I make a living as an English teacher. I spend most of my day teaching others how to write and how to read. As glamorous as that might sound, I get little time to further teach myself how to write and how to read, not the least of which do any of that for fun. And before you start in about “weekends” and “holidays” and “summers”, let me just straight up tell you: All that “time off” I spend thinking about YOUR kids and how I’m going to be a better teacher for YOUR kids. Lest this digresses into a rant, I’ll move on.

Prior to, oh, ten minutes ago, when I edited myself to write “I make a living as an English teacher”, I would claim “I am a teacher”. It may not seem like it, but there is a big difference in the way these two sentences are worded. The first implies my occupation is a temporary one, a stop on the way to something more. While the second implies that my identity is formed by being a teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, but I think it’s high-time I am seen as something more by myself, by my students, by my administrators, and by society.

In a “take a left at the light, go down two blocks, cross the bridge, and take the first right at the mailbox shaped like a duck” way, that’s really what I’m trying to get at. My internal editor both keeps me from being a writer and keeps me locked into a job where I am finding less-and-less reasons to stay. This started out as musings on how we inhibit our ability to actualize what we want in life (e.g..: be a writer) and ended up something on the way to realizing what part of the problem may be (i.e.: the unhealthy and impossible tasks placed on being a teacher in the 21st-century).

It’s nothing profound, according to my internal editor, but at least it’s a start.

Featured Image by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Internal Editor”

  1. I think what you’re feeling is shared by many people who would like to focus on an art while struggling to get by each day. I know I have. Even when I’ve had jobs that don’t consist almost solely of writing, I’ve found it hard to motivate myself to write after work. Call it exhaustion or laziness or lack of dedication, but I think more than a few artists neglect their callings because they have to go to work each morning.

    I don’t have a good answer. I’m not dumb enough to say, “You should quit and focus on your writing!” Unless you have an independent source of wealth or happen to have found the unicorn teaching job that pays a decent amount, that’s not reasonable.

    My best advice is to use the moments you can steal away from your workday. I know that’s almost impossible for teachers, but a few minutes of writing here and there during the day will, very slowly, add up.

    As for the internal editor, it ain’t goin’ nowhere.

    Wish I could offer better help. Keep writing!

    1. William:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! My posts don’t often generate comments, so I appreciate you taking the time to give a few words of advice and encouragement.

      There is a Catch-22 in trying to work on your art and work on putting food on the table. Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy as you mentioned or you are among the select few whose art breaks you out of the cycle.

      I do try to steal a few moments away from the workday to write. I did write a blog post after all, so stealing those few moments amounted to something tangible. I know I sometimes forget that the proverbial elephant is eaten one bite at a time. I need to remind myself of this more often.

      Now, if only that internal editor could fill her mouth full and remain quiet for a while!

      Cheers and happy writing to you!

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