If you write, I am pretty sure you have one. And if you don’t write, I know you do– and I know they’ve had the last word. So far. Some people call them inner critics. I have two and they have names. Wise Guy and Breathless. They both smoke. I don’t.
Wise Guy is fast talking, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. He is impatient, and suffers no fools. Over and over he says, “What! are you kidding me.?” He sits at huge desk in a newsroom surrounded by the thunder of clacking typewriters. His world is in black and white.
Breathless, on the other hand, hardly says a word. She raises an eye brow, sighs, lifts her gloved hand toward her mouth and takes a slow drag on a cigarette held in a mother of pearl and onyx holder. And then she shakes her head. Slowly. And as she mouths the word, “No…” smoke rings float above her head. And I pull another piece of paper out of the typewriter, crumple another page and toss it over my shoulder. This is all figurative, of course. I don’t own a typewriter.
What is not figurative is the crumpled paper, the deleted paragraphs, the discarded worked and reworked drafts. This innervation of inspiration by criticism that isn’t really there is real. And those crumpled pages are food for Wise Guy and Breathless.
I haven’t been writing and Wise Guy and Breathless are getting bored. They are loud this morning. But it is different this time. Wise Guy says, “What? Are you kidding me? If you want to write, write!
And Breathless surprises me, too: “Darling, such fuss! Just put something down.” So I do. They shrug. Nod. Link arms and walk away. It was all just smoke.