The Battle for the Wand

“You have to write something for the blog. It’s been seven days. You were doing to post twice a week, remember? Can’t you honor any commitments?”

It hasn’t been a week, I thought. It’s been four days. I’m still within the timeframes… I went and looked at the last post, and it was seven days ago. I had to post something.

I skimmed hurriedly through my Fiction file. Maybe a short piece of fiction I’ve stopped sending out? Well, there are a couple, but they might be salvageable, so maybe I don’t want to post them first on the blog. And… oh, wait, this one’s kind of good, maybe I —

“No, no, no! Stop distracting yourself! Get to work!”

I could write a paragraph or two about my latest rejection. That would be fun.

I could write something else about The Project, about a plot point that appeared and…

“Nobody cares about your stupid, self-indulgent project.”

I could write a restaurant review, or post some photos, but I hadn’t taken any new photos in a few weeks.

“Stop dithering! You’re incapable of making a decision!”

Wait a minute. Just whose voice is that?

“Oh, like you don’t recognize me. Right.”

Oh, yes. The Inner Critic.

“Did you miss me, buttercup?”

I hadn’t missed The Inner Critic, not really. Was is possible I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of days?

“Yes, I was enjoying watching you on that two-day high you had, when you sent that story out and were imagining someone would actually buy it! It was hilarious. Picture me munching popcorn and waiting for the inevitable crash-and-burn.”

I did picture her. She was taller and skinnier than me, in a severe but stylish black suit and sling-back shoes with four-inch needle heels. Yes, my Inner Critic could walk in high heels. Further proof that I was a failure.

She flicked the long, gleaming, silvery wand she held in her right hand. “You should get back to work, not that it matters. You’re not smart enough and you don’t work hard enough. Your stories are derivative and nobody cares how pretty some individual sentences might be.”

My Inner Critic had a wand? How come I didn’t have a wand? I was the Creative.

“You don’t deserve a wand,” she said. Sneered, rather. She sneered.

As I thought back, it seemed like the Inner Critic sneered a lot.

“Well, you give me a lot to sneer at,” she said. Sneered. Yeah, that was becoming a thing. “You’re self-indulgent and lazy. You lack follow-through. You don’t work hard enough and your work just isn’t that good. And can we talk about the way you dress?”

“What’s wrong with the way I –“ I saw the trap in time and changed direction. “How can you say I lack follow through?”

“Well, you should have finished the Project by now. And you should have at least twelve short stories to send out, not five. And your stories should be getting better, shouldn’t they?”

“You’re supposed to help me,” I said. “You’re supposed to be part of the team.”

“I am part of the team. I want you to take a realistic look at yourself.” She fidgeted with the wand.

“You’re on some kind of a passive-aggressive power trip,” I said. “You wait until I have a setback and then you pile on with all kinds of negative messages. That’s not a realistic anything. You’re not helping.”

“Not helping? You use my help when you’re reading news articles, or writing reviews. You don’t hesitate to use my help then.”

“That’s what you’re supposed to do.”

She put the wand behind her back. “I’ll be the judge of what I’m supposed to do,” she said haughtily.

Oh, Good Lord, first sneering and now speaking haughtily. I couldn’t put up with this. “You need to go back to your office,” I said.

“No! I’ll go where I want. Who told you that haircut looked cute? Because they were lying.”

I stepped towards her in my elastic-waist pants and my dark green sweater with the pills on the elbows, and my not-cute hair. “I believe the wand is mine,” I said. “I’ll have it now.”

“No! No! It’s mine now. You have to listen to me, to whatever I say!”

“No I don’t. You are very good at your job usually, but I don’t have to tolerate your power-tripping.” I held out my hand. “Give me my wand.”

“It’s not yours anymore, you lost it, because, um, because you lack follow through! Look at you! Yesterday, you added, like two paragraphs to the Project, and went back and noodled around at the beginning. That’s not forward progress!”

“Ah, but I made notes.”

“Well,” she said. She twitched away from me and stumbled a bit on those heels. “Well, anybody can make notes.”

“No, not anybody. You don’t understand the creative process—“

“Oohhhh, creative process,” she sneered, but her sneer seemed a little desperate.

“Yes, creative process. You have a part in it, but it comes closer to the end. Now, give me back my wand and go back to your office.”

“But I don’t want to. I like having the wand,” she said, pouting.

“I know, and when it’s your turn you can hold the wand. In the meantime, I’ll send you some tweets from the Republican Administration to critique. Would you like that?”

She ducked her head. “You’re just trying to make me feel better,” she said, but, after a few seconds, she handed me the wand.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Don’t forget those tweets. You know you have a problem with follow—“

“I won’t forget,” I said.

She seemed a little shorter as she walked away, and I realized her shoes had morphed into pumps with square, low heels. Much more practical.

I gripped the wand and looked down. Hey! I had a blog post.

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