Monthly Archives: February 2013

Letting Go

You’re a write eejit when you treat your manuscript like your baby.
I’m not the overly sentimental type—or at least I do a good job of hiding it. I wasn’t the one blubbing like a baby at “Mary Poppins” (not looking at anyone in particular, man-mate!) But I confess, when I put my youngest on the bus to kindergarten for the first time, I did feel that mother-child bond stretch out like an over-zealous rubber band, and it brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. That wee one that had been clamped to my hip and shin for five years, had just blown me a kiss from the other side of the road and hopped merrily on the bus without a backward glance.

Okay, okay, I hear you groan—not another Mommy blog. Well, yes, but just this once, and only to make my point. (I’m not above exploiting my kids.)
So it’s with trepidation that I prepare to send premier child off to college. What if I didn’t get it right? What if I read all the wrong child-rearing books? (Actually, I don’t think I read any.) But what if I didn’t feed her enough kale or Vitamin D. Maybe I shouldn’t have had her vaccinated, and maybe all those fluoride treatments were a mistake. I didn’t teach her to ride a bike. I didn’t talk enough about sex, or maybe I said too much. I showed, but didn’t tell. Maybe I suffocated her character—didn’t let it evolve naturally. Should I have insisted she not swear so much?

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And then I pull myself up short, because I’m being as neurotic about my parenting of my daughter as I am of my books. Can you parent a book? I hear you ask. Yes, most definitely, yes!
You have sleepless nights while it’s in the newborn phase—lying awake for hours wondering if you’re doing it right. You can’t imagine how your baby can ever grow up and demand less of your attention. And then slowly you hit your stride. Sometime you’re cruising along taking every corner like a pro. Other times you’re flailing around like a one-legged roller skater. Sometimes you get to the stage where you just want to throw up your hands and yell, “I quit!” But you can’t. You’re in it for the long haul. And then there are those few and far between days when every, just every little thing, is bloody brilliant.
And as with parenting a child, there comes a time when you have to push that offspring out of the nest. No more editing, looking for stray commas, dangling modifiers. You’ve given it a good talking to and told it to do its best, and never go home with a guy who’s weirder than its brother, and . . . It’s all about giving it wings and letting it fly.

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Photo by Peter Barron

 

Cotter Pin

1bike2 Old Bicycle

You’re a write eejit when your cotter pin takes a hike.

One summer I was waiting tables in Montauk, Long Island. I bought a cheap bicycle to get from my flop pad to the beach to the restaurant. It worked, barely. Some sage person advised me that the reason items of machinery (the names of which I am not privy to) clicked around and around when I pushed down on one of the pedals, getting me nowhere fast, was because my cotter pin was missing. Well, today, the cotter pin that keeps my brain from banging around in my skull failed to report for duty. You know that feeling when your gears are spinning but not engaging?

I faffed—don’t you just love that word—around for the day. I poked at my latest query letter. Godricks jockstrap, they’re hard to write! Why are there fifteen ways of saying anything?

The clichéd: When Miranda loses her boyfriend to sexpot Lavinia, it can only mean one thing—she must discover her inner diva and fight back.

The colloquial: Miranda goes apeshit and swears she’ll get her pound when Lavinia, the local ho, jacks her two-timing piece of sh*@ fella . . .

The businesslike: Miranda’s boyfriend cheats on her with the popular girl in town. Miranda takes up pole dancing and swears revenge.

Okay, lame examples, but you get my point. Not a task to be undertaken when your cotter pin is slipping.