My Monster – a story

My Monster

Last minute story I conjured up today. I suppose it’s in honor of the ending of another year.

No one would take you.

No one.

So I did. I took you. I took you and brought you home.

What else could I do.

You were my monster.

And I loved you. I loved you. But maybe not enough.

At least that’s what they say.

But I remember you, my boy, and how we’d play together, in the backyard. You didn’t like sports, no, but you loved to pretend, so we’d pretend. We were space men invading a far off moon, in search of alien enemies. I remember teaching you to swim in your grandad’s pond. I remember sitting up with you all night after your dog was hit by a car and how you refused to leave his side for hours even after he was dead.

But I never loved you enough I guess.

That’s what they say.

I hadn’t seen you in, what was it, three, four months before today. You were back from school on a break and needed money. You and I had an argument, I think, about something stupid. They were all stupid though. All of them. Money, girls, drugs. They all blur for me into a decoupage of pain. A stain that can’t be cleaned up. But that’s what all of this is, isn’t it? The stain that won’t come clean. Your mother could have fixed things. I am sure of it. I am sure. But that dark spot in her chest wasn’t nothing like they said, was it?

And looking at you now I can still see you laughing in the back yard as we shoot the aliens together. And was everyone just an alien in the end, or was it you that were from somewhere else? Somewhere cold and distant.

And they tell me I should have seen the signs. I should have seen something. ANYTHING. And I saw everything, even in the letters that were simply asking for an extra fifty dollars until your school loan came through. But sometimes even seeing everything you can miss it all. Like the way you never wore short sleeve shirts, so I would never see the cuts there. Or the way you would somehow get smaller the madder you get, as if you were retracting, compacting, preparing as if for an explosion. Or how at the end there you wouldn’t look me in the eye so that the last memory I have of you was the way your hands would clench and unclench as we spoke, and how bad you smelled, and how the last thing you said to me was ‘bye dad’. And then there was the gulf of those months and then a call from your Aunt Karen telling me to turn on the news, that you were on the news, and did I know, did I know what it would be? Did I know?

That’s what they all want to know.

Did I see it?

Did I see what you’d do?

Did I see the monster you’d become?

And how do I tell them that for me, even at the worst, when your grades were declining and you were getting into fights and were talking back to me that I only saw the laughing little boy playing space man in the backyard? How do I tell them that the monster they see is still the miracle that his mother and I had prayed for when she had learned she couldn’t have children? How do I tell them that my monster was once someone too? How do I tell them that I still love him and will bury him in an unmarked grave beside his mother?

And how do I tell them that I know as little about what created my monster as they do, and that even if they find some reason that it will never clean away the stain of what he did, or its effects. How do I tell them that in five years, in ten years, in twenty years I will still love my monster, even as I hate what he became and what he did, and nothing can ever, ever change that.

Because he may have been my monster, but first he was my son.

12.31.12

c

Christmas Story 2012 – NAUGHTY

Just whipped this up, because I am sorta crazy like that. Hope you like it. Fresh out of the oven so please forgive any errors.

Naughty

He had only been outside for fifteen minutes but the tears against his cheeks were already frozen. His teeth were chattering and his hands burned from the cold but he refused to go back in. At least he wouldn’t go yet.

Continue reading “Christmas Story 2012 – NAUGHTY”

Trimming The Fat

   For me there’s few things as upsetting as editing my writing. Well, wait, that’s not true, I really like editing my work when I am doing the editing but when it comes to someone else, well…I think loathe is letting the act get off a little easy. There is just something so clinical and cold to it all that it really rubs me the wrong way…when someone else does it.

Ah, and there’s the rub.

Now, I am not going to tell anyone that I am some genius that can edit their own work and can make stories into pieces of magic that transcend the page. No. That isn’t me. BUT I can tell you that I know the story I want to tell and know it pretty well. And in knowing the story I want to tell I am a pretty good person to go back to find errors, fix errors, and fill out the story where it’s a little weak. I know what the story is trying to be, and in that, I am a pretty good person to get it to where it is heading.

Ah, but not always.

Because sometimes you’re just too darn close and you NEED other eyes on the work. You need someone else to look at it and tell you what you’re missing, where the story is weak, and can sometimes tell you the brutal truth when something just doesn’t work.

And the truth then is brutal, and it hurts, but if it’s a longer work, if it’s a big work it’s easy to lose sight of the road you’re on and easier to stray off into unnecessary tangents. You are just too close to the work to get a good feel for what needs to be done so you need someone to step in and to pull you back onto the path again. But there’s a fine line there, a very, very fine line in how to do it.

My issue with editing and editors specifically is that they are looking at the story the in a way that benefits THEM – they are helping to shape the story that THEY want to read, and I guess that’s fine if it’s their book that the piece is going in, or if it is something they commissioned, but outside of that the editor has to be VERY cautious on how they mold that work. An editor is great for grammar, for repetition, and for the mechanics of what makes a piece work. An editor knows the cold mechanics of all of this, but what they don’t know is the emotional context and the reasoning behind it. They don’t always appreciate the writer’s stylistic choices, choices which oft times SEEM repetitious and awkward yet are part of the story.

I have gone through that more than a few times where editors felt that aspects of my style didn’t work, and where they wanted to re-shape the story to fit what they wanted it to be. Now, I was putting these stories into their publications so I wasn’t going to really argue much beyond the cursory bit of standing my ground because it’s THEIR release, not mine, but I also made sure that whatever changes I made were only for THAT version of the work and that when it came time to release it myself I would put MY version out then. Because I would rather the story be a tad awkward and reflect MY vision than be something that reflects someone else’s vision because it’s MY story, not theirs. Something I do wonder if editors forget.

The writer, love it or hate it, is an artist, just an artist that uses words and I wonder if too often the artistry of what they are doing, or trying to do, is lost under the axe of an editor. And heck, we need editors to make sure we don’t let fail something that could be special were it not for some simple mistakes. I needed one on the novel because my grammar is poor at best and some things needed to be tightened. And I lucked out in getting a friend to do it that respected the vision of what I was trying to do and they helped me make the book better. Ah, but my editor on the novel also brought distance with them, a distance that didn’t get them involved too deeply in the shaping of the book beyond the cosmetics. And I suppose that’s my personal preference – I would rather my story, my book, fail because of me, because I didn’t do my job than to have someone step in and change what I intended the work to be. I would rather fail or succeed by  my own hand rather than trust someone else to do what is right, what is best.

In saying all of this I have to admit that I am very, very curious what the relationship with an author and an editor are like when it comes to professional work because I bet you it’s a lot different. I would like to think so at least. In MY mind I picture the editor and writer sitting down to discuss changes, ideas, reasoning, and together shaping the book. It still would feel weird to me, but an editor is like a music producer – there to help you ‘sound’ better, but again, it’s a find line between making sure the sound is clean and the song moving forward and the producer/editor stepping in to change the music, the tune, or add or subtract something that they don’t fully appreciate.

Writers need editors. It’s just a simple fact. We need them because we don’t always get it right. We don’t always make the path clear. And in a perfect relationship the editor will come in and make sure that the story moves forward with as few obstacles as possible and will guide the author forward so that they can make sure that they feel the work still reflects their ideals and vision. And if that isn’t the goal of the editor, well, maybe they need to look into other work.

c

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