From time to time, my children enjoy showing me pictures that they’ve drawn special, just for me. By “time to time,” I mean every time I turn my head to the right or to the left, a crudely drawn crayon masterpiece is shoved in my face. It’s almost as if it’s a calculated plan to drive me insane. I look at these drawings, smile and nod, and put them on one of several stacks around the house, whichever one is within arm’s reach. If nothing is within arm’s reach, a new stack is born. It goes without saying that all of these drawings are drawn “just for me,” because, otherwise, the kids would have to go throw them in the recycling bin and I’m usually closer. I don’t throw them in the recycling bin because god forbid one of these kids becomes the next Van Gogh and there I’ve gone and thrown all their childhood scribblings away. I might as well paper shred some hundreds while I’m at it.
The thing about those drawings is that the kids seem quite enamored with them. They’re proud of themselves. I look at the drawings and am overwhelmed with the fact that each and every one of those magical ponies, ninja snakes, and flying rabbits is a gross affront to everything we know about evolutionary biology. I gaze at some creature, etched on the back of one of their old homework assignments, and think, “That over-sized head isn’t viable in the wild and no one can effectively wield a sword that’s four times longer than their body, especially when they have Popsicle sticks for fingers, and those disproportionately short legs wouldn’t have helped them outrun even the slowest of predators. Oh, and is that a goatee or blood? If it’s blood, we might need to make an appointment somewhere with someone who knows about children who like to draw dead and dying things.”
I don’t ever tell them any of that, of course, I even hang a few on the refrigerator like all dutiful parents. If nothing else, it helps with the weight loss. I lose my appetite every time I’m reminded of how nonviable a dragon with fangs so long it would pierce it’s own brain every time it closed it’s mouth is.
This brings me to writing. I only started writing seriously about four years ago, about the time my youngest took up drawing. I don’t have an MFA, I’m not in a writing group, and I probably have about as much right to call myself an author as a monkey with a scalpel can call itself a surgeon. I’ve done some blogging before, and lots of small creative writing ditties in a variety of places (none published, of course), but the only substantial thing I’ve written is my novel, Deified.
Recently, I finished a fourth draft and, feeling quite confident in it, sent it out to a variety of people to get feedback. That process alone has shaved years off my life because as soon as I had time to reflect on the distribution … no, that’s not right … it’s more of an unleashing. The moment I had time to reflect on what I had unleashed, I had the crippling, agonizing fear that they would read my writing much in the same way I look at my children’s drawings and think to themselves, “That passes for characterization? I’ve known rats with bubblier personalities, and the plot was so Swiss cheese holey, I thought those same rats might be interested in a piece of it. In what universe does this story make any sort of viable sense? No universe I’ve ever been a part of, that’s for sure. The story should have started and ended with this one simple sentence: The universe collapsed in on itself and everything that used to exist, didn’t anymore.”
And to make matters worse, maybe they’ll smile and nod to be polite and throw the story on a stack, hoping that someday, something I write will be worth a damn. That way, they can go to parties and tell people that they read the most dreadful thing I’d ever written and everyone can have a laugh at my expense.
Karma is a bitch. 😉