I’ve been busy trying to “birth” this book I’ve been writing all year. That’s it on the right: Anchor. Normally I would have been finished by now. In fact, my self-imposed publishing date was October 28th. Well, that didn’t happen.
If you are a creative type, whether writer, painter, knitter, chef or whatever, you understand what it is like to have your work—your baby—called ugly. That’s what happened to me this past week. It’s a semi-long story. I’ll be quick.
My son and I have a lot in common. We also have just as much not in common in any way whatsoever. Oil and water could be mixed more easily than some of the concoctions he and I pour ourselves into.
Last year, when I was just about finished putting together my middle school book, The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels, my son picked up the manuscript and read it. He did not like it. He began hammering on me like an out-of-control little league father ripping his son’s inept attempt to play baseball. I ran off to my room, hurt, slamming the door and swearing never to come out again, even for ice cream.
A day went by and my blood pressure settled back down to a reasonably high level and I began going over all my son’s observations once more. This time I was more patient and receptive. There is something about a father/son relationship that sometimes makes criticism of either become volatile at the moment it’s happening. It must be one of those natural phenoms like volcanoes and earthquakes. Anyway, the more I thought about his “edits” the more sense they made and I wound up redoing a lot of the manuscript to accommodate them. Christopher became a better book because of it.
So last week, as I am rushing but feeling pretty good to get my latest grown-up effort put to bed and sent off to printing land, my son started reading it and all hell broke loose. It was worse than last time. He had a gun this time—a shotgun—and he unloaded both barrels into my manuscript. Then, he reloaded and did it again! Boom! Boom! We argued and yelled and flung our arms all over the place as we did. It’s a wonder one of us didn’t get hit. And this was after his reading only the first seven chapters.
So I did the only natural thing an author could do. I ran to my room, slammed the door, kicked the cat and ripped up my manuscript in a gazillion little pieces. Well okay, maybe I didn’t do any of those things…but I wanted to.
As before, when the smoke settled and the room became clear and I had time to review my son’s totally incorrect and obnoxious criticism of my writing, not to mention rude, I stubbornly began a drastic rewrite of a good portion of the first seven chapters.
They are better now. And so am I…but the process is exhaustive. He hasn’t begun reading the remainder of the book. This is a good thing. I need the rest before he starts reloading.
A side note for anyone who had interest in reading my posting about Ed Walker (October 23rd)…his family joined him bedside at his nursing home last Sunday night, October 25th to listen to his final broadcast that was recorded a few days earlier from his hospital room. After 65 years on the air, Ed died just three hours after signing off the air for the last time, his fight with cancer finally over.
While I worked with Ed for only a few years, he left a lasting impression on me and my life was enriched by having that opportunity.