Dear Sage

I just had a talk with my inner editor. If you have an inner editor that takes control of things before they are ready, read on. This may help.

Monday, I realized the Editor had gotten out of control. I’d had this same discussion with the inner editor over 10 years ago, and thought that we’d worked things out, but my editor can really get out of control. Apparently, it needed to be done again.

There was just a simple agreement to work out with the editor: Just wait till we bring you a manuscript. Till then, the editor is off-duty.

As soon as we worked out that little deal, I was suddenly sitting at the desk of my fourth-grade teacher in Perrin Elementary school. You have to get that my whole life I sort of detested my fourth-grade teacher and that Perrin was an old school, a very old school. Perrin was built in the late 19th century. The floors were honey-colored oak. There were giant windows and 14-foot ceilings let in lots of light into the classrooms which still had the hardwood hinge-top desks with inkwells in them. Most of the graffiti carved into the desks was older than the students. As soon as the editor was able to relax, all this detail flooded in.

 

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 This is what our desks looked like

 

The atmosphere of the place flooded in, the hollow sound of the great hallways and the hiss of the radiators, the shine of the uneven wood floors, polished to perfection by the bucking drum polisher wielded by our janitor. The life force of this place flooded back, a life with the sound of laughter, the changing faces of my classmates and teachers, love, child-like obsessions, uncertainty, fear—all of it flooded back in an atmospheric way.

Lynne Macneil who was with me for this experience told me there’s a Scandinavian word for this atmosphere: Stemning, which as far as I can tell means mood or ambiance accompanied by sentiment.

The thing is, my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Aiken, was a teacher most of us considered an evil witch.

 

My friend Jay’s mom even transferred him out of the school district in order to keep Mrs. Aiken’s evil hands off of him. I had to write “I will use my self control.” up to 700 times a night as additional homework in her class. Apparently I had none. Yet that was not the stemning that floated back to me self-controlnt. It was the atmosphere of everything else—the atmosphere that the edited stories were holding back—that is now available. It was very significant that I was not sitting in a student’s desk when these memories returned, but the desk of the teacher.

I no longer hated her. I could probably hate something, but not her.

The richness of my life returns in these moments. As a story-teller, the newly remembered Perrin School is the goose’s golden egg.

I can see why my editor was afraid, though. There is an unbelievable deluge of images coming forth. Sensory input of all kinds—sight, sound, smell, feel, taste—are all coming in like a firehose. I can handle it, though. The wizard always creates from the chaos, not the void.

 

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