Friday, December 4, 2009

The spirit and the inner editor


National novel writing month is over. Where is your inner editor?

My wordcount calendar advised me to kill mine and bury it in the greenhouse. I know that Chris Baty advises the somewhat less violent method of sending it on an all expenses paid cruise for the month of November

First I would like to note that my inner editor is not buried in the greenhouse. Why not? Well, when I write creatively (essays are another matter) my inner editor becomes quite friendly. Sometimes I worry it goes too easy on me; my inner editor gets very excited when I write. I feed it all the little bits of twisted up plotline, all the nasty plotholes, and all the unrealistic characters. It stalks around for a few hours, and then comes back with a fully digested version of my story. I've found that the happiest parts of my life are when I have that little voice talking in the back of my head, working out the problems, and finding solutions. I like being happy, so I decided to see how I could apply that to other parts of my life.

I find my inner editor is great when it has a story to work on, but whenever I try to study or write an essay things fall rather to pieces. What goes wrong? I'm sitting there with the voice in the back up my head saying, why didn't you get up earlier? You are procrastinating. You are so lazy. You will fail and then life will be pointless and why don't you just go off and kill yourself. That is abusive, and the sort of behaviour one finds in disturbed and unhealthy relationships. So why do I let this happen? Because I've always believed the darn thing. If I know I am messing up maybe I will get better. Maybe, but no. It does not work that way.

Henceforth I have a project. I want my inner editor to behave the same in all areas of my life. I want it to be that little voice in my head workings things out. So my project is to turn it away from my personal failings, and toward what I love. I love writing and philosophy and living properly. The last being a big issue for someone who has only lived on her own for a year and a half. So instead of it telling me how much my essay sucks I want it to be preocupied with the ideas I am working with. Instead of being cross that I am not studying I want it to be thinking about Plato's conception of the spirit and how that applies to his metaphyics. Much more useful and I am keeping myself interested in the task at hand instead of thinking about myself all the time. The best way to improve any skill is to put it to use. Seems like it should work, right?

Yes, it should. But I gave it a funny purpose. I now understand Plato's conception of the spirit. Plato says the spirit should look upwards towards what is unchanging instead down towards the material. I've always thought that to be rather silly, slightly disturbed anti-materialism. But that's what I am trying to do with my inner editor! That's the way I am happiest. My inner editor is my spirit! So I believe in spirits. What interesting things I learn when I don't focus on getting up in the morning and sitting down to do my readings at exactly half past eight.

Watch for my next post, where I will discuss the difference between the Christian and the Socratic Spirit and show why the latter fits my definition and not the former.


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