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June 2011

Bonus Content: It’s A Conundrum

In this world, there are problems and there are conundrums. They do differ. Problems are your ordinary, garden-variety bugaboos. Whether you call them a hitch, snag, or quandary, they all differ from a conundrum. 

co·nun·drum [kuh-nuhn-druhm] noun

  1. a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words.
  2. anything that puzzles. A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma.

My conundrum

And, boy, do I have one! How do I silence my inner editor, who has tenacious tendencies?

It’s a conundrum because I love the editing process. I enjoy the creative part well enough. No, I do! When the page is new and the story takes first form—sometimes my characters even highjack the plot and take it directions I never imagined. That’s thrilling.

For me, the magic happens in the editing.

But for me, the magic happens in the editing. That’s when a simple description becomes a metaphor, a cliché puts on a new set of clothes, character traits wax allegorical. Editing is where prose morphs from song to symphony.

And therein lies my problem. Getting that first draft down so I have something to edit.

The voice in my head

I read a blog the other day, The Blood-Red Pencil, where Kim Person wrote a post, Voices in your Head, Part II. In it she talks about “Aunt Irene,” who invades her home and mind.

Oy, I wish Aunt Irene were the voice in my head. I could shut the door and ignore her. My office space may only be a small corner of my bedroom, but it’s a well-equipped corner. Any pleas for food can be ignored—I keep a stash of chocolate and other snacks in my file cabinet. Right next to my desk. I don’t even have to get up. Coffee? Pfff. The pot sits on my side table.

Sgt. Vince Carter from Gomer Pyle USMCNo, Aunt Irene’s isn’t a voice I’d listen to.

Anyone remember Sergeant Vince Carter from the Gomer Pyle Show? “Move it! Move it! Move it!” You got it. That’s the one. His is the cantankerous voice of my inner editor, Sergeant Snark. Only instead of “move it,” he tells me “Edit! Edit! Edit! That stinks. Cliché! Change it! Lame! Boring!” No, scratch the boring. That’s what my cheeky critique partner Gina-the-Hun Holmes tells me if I dare linger on a point too long.

I tried explaining to Sergeant Snark that I’m only throwing up on the page. Vomiting the story down for a first draft. He gagged. Turns out undercooked sentences make him sick. In desperation, I decided to do the NaNoWriMo and set a goal for 50,000 words. I should have realized earplugs wouldn’t silence Snark. I didn’t make it to my goal, but those 350 words were lyrical. 


In a final frenzied attempt to silence my inner editor, I borrowed a Beretta 9mm from Ronie Kendig. It helps to have friends who write military thrillers.

Ane's BerettaI laid it on my desk.

Right next to my laptop.

In plain sight—a bold move.

Did it work? You would ask. No. Sergeant Snark merely picked it up and shot an adverb.

Which kind of blows a hole in that conundrum. Oh well, on to the next: iPad e-calendar or Day-Timer?

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