My internal publishing department

I am under the (possibly quite mistaken) impression that we all have an internal publishing department.

But as I have no idea what your internal world is like, I’m just going to share my own.


My internal editor checks EVERY. SINGLE. WORD I type. He’s not nearly as attentive when I talk, but the moment my fingers hit the keyboard, he perks up like a freaking dog who just heard “wanna play”?

Yep. Unless you’re in my innermost circle (and even then), any written communication you receive from me has been typed, reread, and edited for clarity / tone / politeness etc. It’s just what I do.

I want to be certain that whoever reads what I write understands not only what I’m trying to say, but my intentions, my emotions, and my facial features as I write.

Yeah, I really don’t want to be misunderstood.

(The irony of this is that when I read stuff from other people, I rarely care how they communicate, and will happily ask them to clarify if I’m not certain.

I give them the benefit of the doubt 95 times out of 100.

But rarely allow myself the same luxury.)


The most attentive, aggressive voice in my head is probably the judge. He is responsible for ensuring that anything that comes out of my mouth or fingers is well-considered, generally sensible and most of all, safe.

He’s a protector, but also not someone you ever want looking after your kids. He impartially kills anything that doesn’t pass his muster, often cutting off my creative inner child mid-thought.

You know what could be awesome? A short story where humanity is super stressed about COVID-19 and then they get invaded by aliens and then suddenly COVID-19 becomes a very different —” “NOPE NOT GOING TO WORK SORRY.”

The real challenge is that the judge is an intimidating blend of prefrontal-cortex sensible rationality which leans on all my accumulated information to offer genuinely plausible excuses:

  • that story has been told already
  • other people will tell it better than you
  • you’ll get distracted like you always do and never finish it
  • you could spend the time you’ll take to write that doing work so you can rest later

and lizard-brain terror (that idea won’t work I’ll never do it well enough I’ll fail and then I’ll be rejected from the tribe and then I’ll die alone ohshitohshitohshit).


The judge and editor share office space, with the judge hovering over the editor’s shoulder to make sure everything I write is safe.
{Yes, I do see the trend as I write. Safety plays a larger role in my internal story than I realised. Thank you for pointing that out.}

The designer, on the other hand, is in a different dimension in a beautiful dress working from wherever suits their fancy that day.

They refuse to be boxed.
They refuse to be confined.
They refuse to do something that has been done before if there is a different way to do it.

(And they will do it with flair and precision, dammit.)

They do their best to make certain my ideas sparkle, and any work I produce has some sparkle to it, even in draft form.


There are more characters, but those are the three that consume the most mental energy, and are usually the most influential in my decision making.

I’m pretty sure there is at least one puppet master behind them all, pulling strings. (Probably some childhood shit I haven’t resolved yet.) But for now, it feels good to see them on paper.


First step, identify.
Second step, acknowledge.
Third step, beat into submission.
Fourth step, take control of my life.

(I’m sure Brené Brown and her spiritual awakening would disagree. As would most psychologists, philosophers or anyone with an iota of life experience. But I need to fail to move forward. So here we go!)

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