What's worse – having voices in your head or answering back?Well, today I'm going to find out, as I fearlessly launch into conversation with that great and terrible voice in my head – The Inner Critic.
NC - Hey Inner Critic, how are you doing?
IC - And you don't know? Aren't writers supposed to be empathetic?
NC - I was only trying to be friendly.
IC - I don't do friendly, it's not an efficient way to operate. But I know you're not big on efficiency.
NC - What's that supposed to mean?
IC - Come on, we both know that you were supposed to start writing this half an hour ago, in Prêt a Manger.
NC - That wasn't my fault! I lost my pen.
IC - You could have carried a spare. Instead, we had to listen to that woman going on and on about a cardigan she found at a car boot sale.
NC - It seemed important to her.
IC - Boooooooooring.
NC - Are you finished criticising my lunchtime routine?
IC - Finished? I've barely started. But I'm going to restrain myself because we're wasting word count here.
NC - Is that all you're worried about, making the best use of my word count? That must be why you make all my first drafts such a chore.
IC - I'm more worried about the boredom threshold of your audience. You're losing them already.
NC - Am not.
IC - Are too. Look, you've got me wasting words again. You're a bad influence on me.
NC - (Speechless)
IC - This blog post isn't even that original. I Googled "inner critic conversation" and at least two people have written the same thing already.
NC - But that was their inner critic, not mine, so it is different (nyah!) I do think you've hit on something though – your dogged insistence on me having to always write something totally original is stifling my creativity.
IC - I'm only trying to make you the best writer you can possibly be. Don't you want to write The Great American Novel?
NC - Erm, not sure. Could it be set in Milton Keynes?
IC - Like, duh. The clue's in the title.
NC - Then no, I don't want to write The Great American Novel. I just want to entertain people without sacrificing my integrity. Is that too much to ask?
IC - Nope, it's too little. Right now, Mister, you're dead on target for The Valley of the Also-Ran.
NC - I can't stand your relentless perfectionism. Care to tell me what's behind it?
IC - Welcome to Mediocrity Central, population you and every other hack in the known universe.
NC - Isn't mediocrity a subjective measurement?
IC - I hereby crown you The King of Meh.
NC - Are you finished?
IC - And you say that I spoil your fun!
NC - And you're avoiding the question. I put it to you that this drive for perfection is nothing more than a delaying tactic to avoid anyone ever looking at or commenting on my work.
IC - Hey, I'm not the one with a pathetic need for approval!
NC - That's not my fault. I blame the parents.
IC - At least we can agree on something. But really, why should we ever send anything to anyone? They'll only want to reject or change it. If you kept polishing everything until it was perfect, there wouldn't be a need to submit it anywhere.
NC - But I want to be published!
IC - There you go again with the pathetic approval thing. Being published isn't all it's cracked up to be, you know.
NC - I do know that. But at least I'd reach more than a handful of readers.
IC - (Slaps imaginary forehead) Don't even get me started on readers! You think the kind of feedback you're getting at the moment is painful, wait ‘til every chimp with an Amazon account gets involved.
NC - At least they might send me things. Like a handful of nuts or something.
IC - Nuts is the word for it. If you'd listened to me, we'd never have got involved with this writing malarkey.
NC - It's a bit late for that now. I can see that we're going to have to agree to differ.
IC - Maybe. As long as you always remember that I'm right.
NC - Hmm. I think that about wraps it up. Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today, Inner Critic. It's been very helpful.
IC - At least someone enjoyed it. I thought it was a waste of time.
NC - You always have to have the last word, don't you?
IC - Yes.