I have just received editorial notes on the novel currently being shopped by my agent. I always have to take a moment when I think I am done with something and then learn that perhaps I am not. My pride rears up and starts looking for a head to remove, and if none are available it might very well turn on me.
These can be dark days. I believe the editor in question had valid points, and so back I will go to see what changes I would like to make. Yet nowhere is there a solid antidote to the quiet whisper of doubt that arrives as a companion on any new journey. He is so convincing when he pleads his case.
“Look,” I say, “I think I’ve got this. I’ll just have another look and see what has to be done.”
“But what if you don’t get it this time either?” he asks. “The problem was you weren’t meticulous enough last time. Let me just tag along and I’ll take a good long look at each and every choice you make so you won’t be in this position ever again.”
It’s a generous offer, and he is looking out for my safety, but in truth this fellow would be happiest if I never took the journey at all, for that’s the safest place possible—nowhere. I can’t hate him, though; I’ve invited him often enough before that it must be odd not being asked to come along this time.
I want to be safe too, but there aren’t enough locks on the door, or police on the street, or eyes on my page to keep me safe in the way this companion would like me to be safe. All you need to do is think, “I am unsafe,” and as quick as a blink you are. It is almost impossible to think, “I am safe,” if someone is always asking, “But what if you are unsafe?” and so this fellow cannot come with me.
He will understand. His is not an enviable job, and I believe it was I who assigned it to him once long ago. I might say he will be missed, but I have found that once he’s gone, it is as if he had never been here in the first place.