Friday, August 27, 2010

The Author

She spent six whole months writing her novel, stolen minutes snatched from her life while the children played in the bathtub or her husband snored in the La-Z-Boy, and all her friends thought that was an amazing accomplishment, and that her novel was at least as good as anything you could get at the library, with the added bonus of no disgusting words or sex scenes.

“Definitely publish this,” everyone said. “You’ll make a ton of money.”

A few weeks later, she did. It hardly cost anything, and her book looked so pretty with her name on the cover. Right away, she sold about twenty copies to her friends and some of the other moms on her block. Her own mother, though, refused.

“I’m not paying money to read a book my own daughter published,” her mom said. “Self-published. Is it one of those stupid horror stories you used to write in high school?”

In the end, she just mailed her mom a copy for a birthday present.

“Oh, I’ve got to read this now?” her mom asked.

A week later, her mom mailed the book back, covered with red ink. She had changed spelling, and commas, and verb tenses, and left comments in the margins like, “If he’s a ghost, why does he need to sleep?” and “Did you even proofread this once?” Her mother’s theory had always been that nobody improved without criticism. Preferably her criticism. Her mother had always been bitter, never been supportive.

Her friends agreed that burning the marked-up copy would help her dispel the negative energy and let go of her stupid need for her mother’s approval, which she was never going to get anyway. It totally worked, too. As the embers died down in the old Weber grill they used for the cremation, she had a bunch of great ideas about demons, and that night, while the kids watched their shows on the big TV, she started to write her second novel. It was so easy.