Saruwatari Ayumi (junglemonkee) wrote,
Saruwatari Ayumi

Refrigerator Art

In the midst of the "Diligent Editing" seminar, the lecturer began talking about the several phases of a manuscript. The first is the draft phase where you are only concentrating on getting it down on paper. You typically give this first, very rough draft to your nearest and dearest for what she called "refrigerator art appraisal," which means that you want them to read it and tell you that you're a genius and that they're proud of you.

I wanted to cry hearing that because it's certainly one of the many things I've always wanted, but I've never gotten it. I have shown my parents my writing only to have them be offended at my portrayal of the parents in the piece, be offended of my lack of parents in the piece, ask me why I never write anything funny or to tell me that some random person I may or may not know who is younger than me and didn't spend their youth as badly is now the Professor Emeritus of Anything Using the Alphabet at University of First Choice.

My first husband mocked my writing, laughing every time I even talked about doing it. My second husband didn't read. Ever. Anything. My third husband made such a mess of my life that I never had time to write. My fourth husband reads my writing sort of behind my back and says nothing. I ask him sometimes if he read this or that and he says "Oh, yeah, I read it. It was good" and goes back to what he's doing.

This lack of reaction is immediately crushing to me. It makes me want to willfully withhold anything I do from them. I've already done that with my family, such that last year when my novel won the first place prize at East of Eden, my stepmother said "So now maybe you'll let us read it." Like an idiot, I gave them a CD of my reading for Ann Arbor's show, and I've heard nothing from them.

On the other hand, I realize that their lack of reaction has been part of what's shaped me. I strive to make my writing better. In fact, not just better, but miraculous and remarkable and shining just so that one day, if I create something that is so undeniably luminous that the entire world is talking about it and calling me a genius, my family might say "You did a really good thing," and not follow it with a "but" or a "and so-and-so's son..." or with anything else that negates the value of their praise.

That will never happen, but as long as that little seed of irritation rubs at me, I will continue to cover it with my mother of pearl until it is large and luminous and valuable, and I will keep it secret and hidden from them. And they'll never know. And that's okay too.
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