When I read a book, article, or short story I instinctively tend to critique it. I’m sure all writers do this. It’s like taking apart a clock to see what makes it tick. I often mention to my husband or my writing friends about what I think worked and didn’t work in the content or style of the piece. I often forget when my youngest son is within earshot, assuming that he tunes me out when I droll on about writing. Apparently, I have been wrong. Somebody has been paying attention.
Within five minutes of my second grader’s return from school Tuesday, he came to me with an impassioned revelation that knocked my socks off. It went something like this: (By the way, names have been changed to protect the poor victim.)
“Mom, Curly asked me to edit his writing in class today and it was…(eyes roll) it was the worst story I’ve ever read in my whole entire life,” he said with the wisdom of his eight years.
Naturally, my first thought was that my son may have hurt the feelings of another child. My second thought was that perhaps this classmate filled his story with disturbing language, blood and gore, or (gasp) kissing. “What was so horrible about his story?” I asked.
“It was four sentences long. (pause) Four sentences!” His eyes widened and his shoulders shrugged with a ‘can you believe it?’ expression.
“Well, what did you say to Curly?” I asked. At about this time, wonder-son began to pace. He was as animated as a prosecuting attorney addressing a jury.
“I told him that nothing happens in his story. I don’t know anything about his character and nothing happens. I said, ‘what’s your story about?’ but he couldn’t tell me.”
Wonder-son continued his rant, “I said, Curly, what does your character want and how’s he gonna get it?”
Somewhere along the line, my concern turned to shock then pride then a ‘am I looking at a picture of me’ hysteria. The rest of his words were soon lost on me. I began giggling so hard that the dog even left the room.
My second grader looked at me and said, “What’s so funny?” With that, all I could do was give him a high five and look at my husband in amazement.
“Somebody’s been listening,” I said.
“He’s your son,” My husband added.
It looks like I’ve got a new critique partner.
Quote for the Day:
There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”———-Hodding Carter
Books I’m reading: The Anatomy of Story by John Truby (F,S&G 2007)
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (yes, I’m still working on that one.)
Various research books related to my nonfiction project in progress.