I do daily battle of this sort when it comes to my writing. Here’s how it goes:
It’s early in my house. Dark, because I’m often up writing before the sun. The coffee pot is gurgling in the kitchen, but I’m not hearing it because I’m in the zone. I’ve got my temporary caffeine fix, Diet Coke, and a box of Dots. It’s a perfectly reasonable breakfast, I keep telling myself. Bella, my dachshund, is snoozing on the back of my chair. She objects to my early morning writing stints, but she can’t quite bring herself to boycott them all together.
I fire up my Mac. Open up my project in Scrivener and begin.
Dad and I watch Mom walk out of the dining room. She stops before she gets to the door. Her body sways. She reaches for the buffet and leans her weight on it. Dad’s shoulders rise. He leans forward.
“I’m fine, Butch,” she says, somehow able to sense him. She stands there for a minute or so and then she lets go of the buffet and makes her way out of the room. Dad exhales, and I realize that I’ve been holding my breath this whole time, too.
Inner Critic AKA The Bad Wolf has a lot to say about what I’ve just written. “BORING! This isn’t working! Who cares anyway?”
So does my Inner Artist AKA The Good Wolf, though often that wolf’s voice is softer and harder to hear. “All right, girl! Now you’re grooving. You’ve anchored Jonathan in a setting. Can you describe it more? Is there something that reflects his internal turmoil? Why did his mom walk out of the room?”
Two wolves. Both demand to be fed.
Now, I do possess kibble. It comes in the form of time and energy and creativity, but I only have enough to feed one of them. Not gonna lie, folks, I have wined and dined that damn Bad Wolf for hours, days, weeks, months until DELETE is the most tempting button on my entire keyboard.
But I have also learned to feed The Good Wolf, my Inner Artist.
“Continue,” The Good Wolf says. “You don’t need this to be perfect or polished right now. Just go with the flow and see where it leads you.”
“What you’re writing is a bunch of crap!” The Bad Wolf inside of me growls.”And I’m starving. FEED ME! ”
“Don’t listen to him, Juliann.” The Good Wolf tells me. “There is heat in this scene. Explore it.”
I feed The Good Wolf.
The light from the dining room window behind him throws Dad’s face in shadow. He turns his head toward me, and I feel his eyes narrow. Feel them scan my face, looking for any sign of the son he thought he knew. I don’t need to see his eyes to know what he’s thinking. I’m thinking the same thing.
We are two strangers sitting around my mother’s table.
“What?” I can either wait for him to break the silence or I can break it myself. “Why don’t you just say it? I’m hurting her.” I push my plate away, sick of the silence. Sick of the waiting. Sick of the scent of congealed pot roast grease.
The sun is breaking. Light is creeping into my living room. Bella yawns and tries to roll over. She almost topples off the top of my chair. It’s quiet (except for her yip as I catch her mid-fall). At least outside my head. Inside my head Jonathan is talking. A LOT. He’s done with silence, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
I have fed the right wolf.
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