Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008
The Kung Fu Carvers

Thursday, January 31, 2008

So why did you ask?

I met this student through work here at the university. He fancies himself a writer and has had some poetry published (his book just went into a second run) as well as written some plays that (he says) have been performed in town. He's gay but the only reason I mention this is because he has some pretty cliche gay man mannerisms (including opening his mouth to speak but holding it open for a brief moment before he begins speaking). And he's pretty snobbish when he wants to be. Lordy, where is this going already!?

Last year he brought in his poetry book for the 3 of us in the front office to read. I can't stand poetry and especially the kind he had in his book. I told him, "Please don't take it personally but I just don't like poetry." He said, "But what did you think of it?" "I didn't like it becase (again) I don't like poetry. But I'm very happy for you." He did that open mouth deal as mentioned above but quickly closed it and just smiled. He was obviously pretty miffed and we didn't see him for awhile.

This past week he brought in two chapters from a teen mystery book he's been working on. Supposedly he's given it to a publisher who (he says) thinks it's so good they can hardly put it down. I thought HEY, this will be fun. Oh dear gods no. It was like grading a paper written by a 7th grader. When he gave me the two chapters (in its nice clear plastic cover) I asked him, "Can I write on it?" Sure! And tell me what you think of it. There was even a questionnaire at the front. It was *horrible*! It took me 4 hours to read because I was correcting so many errors and trying to figure out what he was even trying to say. His characters were very inconsistent and most of it didn't have a dang thing to do with his plot...I mean they wouldn't have had anything to do with his plot if THERE WAS ONE.

So I wrote copious notes all over it and when he came in I gave it to him. The questionnaire is on the very front and the first question was, "Did you like this story." I answered, "No, not in its current form." He looked up at me with shock on his face and barely squeaked out, "You didn't like it? Why?" Read my notes. Now mind you, I was at work and was trying to get a really important project done (and I told him this--you can ask me questions but I need to keep working on this while you stand there). Which was probably good because if I had been actually engaged in the conversation I would have been pretty pissed off. He said, "I didn't ask you to edit it. I have an editor for that. I wanted to know what you thought about the story." I said, "It is barely readable the way you currently have it written. It took me 4 hours to read through your chapters because most of it didn't make sense." So he stood in front of me fuming while he read my notes but as he did he made little comments like,
"Oh well that was explained in chapter 2 that's why it doesn't make sense."
"Well, that was a metaphor." "Then you need to let the reader know it was a metaphor."
The story revolves around the police in a small town but depending on the paragraph the cops went from nice, to snide to just plain mean back to nice. I made the comment, "No matter how small the town, even small town cops are not going to be openly mean to a teenage girl who's at the police station as part of an elite high school squad." "You don't think cops can be mean? You don't understand because you haven't read chapter blah blah blah."

All comments (many more than I've listed but you have better things to do I'm sure) were made with those little mannerisms I mentioned earlier. I know you know what I mean. The raised eyebrow and cocked head. The high shrill, "Whaaaaaat?" Obviously nothing I wrote (again, which took me 4 hours) or said was going to make him think his book wasn't wonderful. But what really made me mad was that he stood there and invalidated every comment or suggestion I made in front of me. Like my opinion really didn't matter or that I didn't know what I was talking about. If you can't take the criticism, why ask? GRRRRR Letitgo Letitgo Letitgo

And I hope he completely "shows me" and his book is published and sells a million trillion and he makes a trilogy out of it.


Sharon said...

Hmm, is this reading/editing thing hereditary? I had a similar experience with a similar outcome. I've come to realize that the only comments the writer wants are comments of praise.

Minya said...

I won't be making that mistake again. And I doubt he'll ask me again.

Minya said...

He just called and asked me for my full name. Turns out the book company used some of my editing and he has to list me as a co-editor.