Welcoming War: The Editor and the Wild Thing

In 1 on December 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Today’s guest poster, Alegra Clarke, is new mom to her third baby as of two days ago. A healthy, robust boy. In honor of that, we have her wonderful post:

I am a person who guards her peace. This isn’t to say I don’t love a good drama. I’m a guilty voyeur of other people’s train wrecks but given the opportunity to meddle, I will always try to find the path of resolution for those involved. Recently, I’ve realized that some ancient conflicts and well-nourished hatreds deserve to be respected; peace is not always the answer. It takes all kinds of chemistry to sustain a relationship and the stability of the physical world is often maintained by relationships involving opposition. So it is with my writer-mind.

 As a slow learner I require a great deal of repetition until a new pattern is established. For years, in the name of efficiency, I’ve tried to mend the polarity in my writer-mind. Like some sort of blinded match-maker, I’ve enticed the Editor and the Wild Thing to sit down with the same page and work together. It always ends in bloodshed – mine. After a particularly bloody battle, a friend made a suggestion using my name as an analogy of how I should approach my writing. I was born Eros-Alegra but after my mother realized that giving her daughter the name of one of the oldest Greek gods – one known for primal love, passion and creating order out of chaos – was a mighty weight to carry into the world, I began using Alegra as my calling card. I’m rarely called by Eros in my day-to-day life but it is a name that makes sense to those who know me best. My friend told me that when I write, I need to gag Alegra, the Editor, and make her sit in the corner and let Eros, the Wild Thing, out to play. When the Wild Thing is exhausted and ready for a nap, the Editor can have her turn. The Editor looks at the Wild Thing’s mess, rolls up her sleeves and smiles in delight.

They are control freaks at the opposite end of the spectrum; the Editor is obsessed with craft and the relationship between reader and writer being a happy one. The Editor needs symmetry in images, steady rhythm in language, and she can obsess for hours over making sure her needs are met. The Wild Thing just wants to be wild. She wants to rename the world around her. She delights in secret languages and jazz rifts. She is offended by the need for translation. If she says that ‘the toes of a statue murmured in the midnight air,’ she will think you are a blockhead for trying to point out that any toes, much less those of a statue, are incapable of ‘murmuring’.  The Editor and the Wild Thing will never reach a compromise, at least not sitting at the same table or even being trapped in the same room together.

 After much wasted effort, I have come to realize that the Editor and the Wild Thing have been happily conducting a love affair without my permission.  Their hatred of one another is a romance that doesn’t require my approval. After all, the Wild Thing requires order to contrast its wildness. And where would the Editor be without material to tame? I have surrendered to the war in my mind. In fact, I welcome it. Let the Editor gnash her terrible teeth and the Wild Thing roar her terrible roars. My world would be a bland place without them.


Eros-Alegra Clarke is currently writing her first novel under the mentorship of her agent. In the meantime, she has been slowly building publications including the story “Naming Shadows” in the literary journal Bitter Oleander. A wife, mother of three, and graduate student, Alegra regularly contributes to Maria Schneider’s website resource for writers:  and can be found blogging about life, writing, and everything in between at: http://alegra22.wordpress.comClarke

  1. Eros-Alegra is one of my favorite writers, scratch that…one of my favorite people in the world, who happens to be a uniquely talented writer.

    The metaphor of Wild Thing and Editor is a classic post. Congratulations Jordan for capturing this one on Make a Scene.



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