Like most writers, I have an inner critic. Unlike most critics, mine has a name. I named her Lola many years ago when I was writing my first round of poetry for submission into an anthology. Lola would sit there, in the recesses of my brain, shouting mean things at me: “You suck at this. Why are you bothering? No one’s going to care or read it anyway!” I didn’t like Lola very much.
But eventually, as I grew more confident in my work, Lola would sit on my shoulder reminding me of simple rules: where to put an apostrophe, that towards is not a word, it’s toward, and so on. Her reminders, though annoying to someone who really could care less about syntax and punctuation, actually became helpful.
I have spent the past two weeks rewriting nearly 300 pages of a book I have the better part of three years into. Lola has been by my side every step of the way. Lately, she’s taken on a kinder voice. My editor, who also has a critic, said the best thing a writer can do is befriend their Lola. Reading that, with hours and hours of work ahead of me, I wanted to tell my editor to go hang out with her critic permanently and leave me alone!
But around 3 a.m. on day three, it happened. Drunk on lack of sleep, I realized the only way Lola and I were going to get this over with was to get through it. And we made peace. She kept her mouth shut just long enough for me to get the skeleton of what is now a much better novel out.
Now, with the first round of a content edit under my belt, I hold my breath waiting to hear how many pages of rewrite are in my future. But this time, when I hear “your book starts on page 89” from my editor, I’ll have Lola on my side. Together, she and I – now my muse – will get it done and Katherine and all her amazing clients will be better for it.
Until then? Me, Lola, our carpal tunnel: We finally sleep.