I made the girl a deal today.
I’ve been stressing over the time it takes to watch her, since she can’t be trusted alone and refuses to toe the line enough to be allowed privileges. That means I can’t write or make music or anything else because she wants constant attention, like an oversized infant.
She’s never learned how to work for and achieve positive attention. We’ve tried–the lessons just don’t get absorbed.
And this has been my issue since she was introduced to our household, and I was deputized to take care of her (nobody told me she was coming), without my knowledge or approval.
The only thing that kept me alive through my long convalescence from the life-threatening developments of sepsis and ARDS was my conviction that I would finally be able to do the writing and composing that I had always meant to, to take the time to publish more than occasionally, to improve as a musician and as a person…
And that was taken from me when this unruly eight-year-old arrived.
Angry! Resentful! Awash in a sea of self-pity and regret! Tumbling headfirst into a black depression that had been beckoning to me anyway.
I can compose music effectively when I’m depressed. Can’t write prose worth a damn. I don’t have the energy to work with metaphor, to deal in meta, to conjure character.
Made lots of angry prog music…eventually broke the depression and the regret. Still resentful. Probably always will be.
And the girl still needs to learn positive attention-seeking, like we writers seek when we write.
This school year, her class newsletters were full of stuff from the faculty about how they were going to teach story critique and construction, concentrate on reading and writing, und so weiter.
I didn’t see so much of that.
But there’s gonna be some.
Was chatting with the child today, and she likes being read to, and wants to learn how to tell stories. As she’s a liar, I think she’s laid the groundwork. I was a liar too. Gore Vidal said that’s how you can tell if a child is an incipient novelist.
Tolkien to the rescue. She’s ten. She likes Disney princesses. The jump is not that big.
So, in a week, we’re going to start reading the Hobbit together. And we’re going to talk about it, as experience, and as story. We’re gonna look at the who, what, where, when, and why, and sometimes the how, and then we’re going to write book reports and then, and then, some Tolkien pastiche. And then some other short work, and we’re gonna look at some other famous stories.
That’s right—we’re gonna read and write together. She gets the one on one attention, I get the writing time. In August, she starts writing for reals. IF this experiment works, and IF she writes a passable short, then we’ll sit down and edit her copy and gussy it all up, and I’ll publish her piece as a book.
And she can go to school, and sit there quietly reading her book, with her name on the cover, and wait for the question.
“Is that YOUR name on the cover? How’d THAT happen?”
“I wrote it.”
And then I’m going to write a children’s book. And I’ll probably set it in Ulthar.
Stay tuned for details.