Internal Editor and Writer Dialogues #1: Process

“Three brothers traveled along a lonely road at—”

“Stop. This is sounding suspiciously like a ripoff.”

“Oh ye of little faith. Now, where was I?”

“You were about to say ‘twilight,’ I believe.”

“You believe wrong. May I continue?”

“By all means, but just so you know, the onus of proof is on you.”

“Always is. Starting over. ‘Three brothers traveled along a lonely road at….”

“Wait for it….”

“…odds with each other. One wanted to go forward. One wanted to go back. One wanted to get off the damn road and take a hike through the lovely woodland on either side of the road.”

“Okay. At least you’ve gone off script, but do you have any idea where this is all going?”

“Of course not. You write a sentence. It implies action, or a consequence. Maybe it only sets a mood. Regardless, you write another sentence that goes with the first sentence. Goes where? No idea. Write another. Is there movement? Progress? Do the sentences, taken together, appear to be working?”

“When you say ‘working,’ what does that mean?”

“I mean the sentences belong together and point to something greater. And before you ask, of course you don’t know what that ‘something’ is, at least not at first. Your job is to figure it out.”

“You mean it’s your job. Figured anything out?”

“Yes. Three brothers traveling along a lonely road, bickering.”

“That’s not a lot.”

“No, but it’s something. Other than the something I have to figure out, of course. Now that I think about it, I take that back. You don’t figure it out. It’s a story. It was always there. You discover it instead.”

“Now you’re getting mystical on me. That’s really annoying.”

“I don’t do it to annoy you. That’s just a bonus.”

“You’re digressing, and it’s not as if you have all the space or time in the world. Focus!”

“The middle brother went back the way they’d come. He was still on a lonely road, only now he was alone. He wandered into darkness and distance and was never seen again.”

“Bit of a downer, that.”

“You want happiness and light? Go to the greeting card aisle.”

“I want the rest of the story. What about the other two brothers?”

“The oldest brother was tired of the road as well. He left the road at a promising spot and hiked off into the woods by a lovely stream. He listened to the birds and the wind in the trees. He saw many wonderful things and congratulated himself on making such a wise choice. Then he was eaten by a bear.”

“Seriously, that’s it? That’s your grand adventure?”

“More like a light lunch in the bear’s story. As for the youngest brother, he kept walking on the road. The end.”

“That’s terrible!”

“Because my impatient internal editor horned in during the creation phase. Which makes for a terrible story or no story at all. Next time, wait your damn turn.”

©2020 by Richard Parks. All Rights Reserved.