I am now Heracles and my editor is Eurytheus.
I am given a task of near insurmountable scope. Mighty are my labors; one might say heroic. I complete the task: I return with my lion’s pelt, or herd of mares, or magic hind, with an eager countenance for my Eurytheus, ready for praise or reward or at least a good night’s sleep.
Rather, I am handed a new task of epic proportions.
Unlike Eurytheus, you see, my editor doesn’t run and hide whenever I return from my adventure with another prize. She comes running out to meet me, eyes ablaze, teeth bared, hands curled into claws, and tells me to get my ass back on the road and get that next prize. I go skulking back down the highway, looking for that magical thing that will finally gain me hero status.
Somewhere in the depths of my addled mind, I am dimly aware that she’s just trying to make me a better writer, to get me to think about things like plot arcs and character development and depth. “It’ll make your story interesting,” she says. “People will want to read it.”
She wants me to actually work at this writing thing!
OK, I’ll work at it. I’ll work at it until my fingers bleed and my eyes shrivel and drop from my skull, and my brain is a mass of lesions, I’ll work at it.
First thing I had to do was clean out the Augean stables. Rather than thirty years of dung, however, I had two hundred pages worth. I think I accomplished most of that, but the cleaning has laid bare structural issues, all of which need to be addressed. And, like the many-headed hydra, as soon as one issue is met and defeated, two others spring up in their place.
Still, I’m willing to do the work. I have a story to tell, it needs to be told, and it needs to be told well. Otherwise, why bother?