A Sensitive Subject

For some reason I can’t quite remember, I found an hour or two to myself on Christmas Eve of all days. Presents were wrapped, someone else was responsible for Christmas Eve dinner, the table was set, and the Sunday New York Times was sitting on the end table waiting to be read. it turned out, that that Sunday Times contained a little lump of coal in the form of an article about the advent of sensitivity readers at publishing houses. I shouldn’t be surprised that there are 1 million ways to offend potential readers or that publishers might want to keep one or two of those readers, but I was suddenly very grateful for all the classic works of literature that, having survived government censors, had the good sense to be written before sensitivity readers existed. 

Then I thought about my own kids’ book (and future book ideas) and all the ways it might possibly offend people. 

The pictures are black-and-white and red all over, so some people might get offended by the predominance of red or the fact that the starring role in the book is played by kid with really bad hair. Or some sensitivity reader might worry that I’m insinuating that mom is with bad hair can’t get their kids to clean their rooms. 

 But as I thought about the ending of my little book about a kid who has his own idea about the definition of a clean room, I realized the people with whom I’m really gonna be in dutch are the millions of moms who are also trying to get their kids to clean their rooms. OK, so maybe I’ll only be in dutch with the moms who still have kids under 12. And I can whittle down that number to the number of moms who read my blog who haven’t figured out the magic formula for getting their kids under the age of 12 to clean their room. So that’s like, five or ten moms at least.

I don’t want to scare you because the book does have a happy ending, if you’re the kid with the messy room, and I do want to go on record that I am not endorsing the non-cleaning of rooms. I do find myself in the controversial situation of being willing to support a flexible definition of the term “clean room“.

This last week, was winter break and, after ordering Thing2 to clean his room two days in a row before he was allowed to invite friends over for “get together’s“ (formerly known as “play-dates” which, out of sensitivity to our resident tween, has been dropped from the approved household lexicon), I realize I’ve been a bit insensitive to him on this sensitive and highly controversial subject. 

Thing2, now getting better at making the room look clean (at least to the casual observer), will stuff a few things end of the bed where they were less likely to show and spend the rest of his energy putting away all the shards of paper from his last homemade light saber, organizing his props for his next special effects project, and finding a place for all the disassembled electronics he rescues from the trash.

When he’s done, the room still looks like hazardous waste site, but in all fairness, the madness is the result of a creative but methodical and investigative spirit. What looks like a shambles to me is for him a laboratory of life.

I’m a huge believer in encouraging the creative spark in everyone, especially in my offspring. That laboratory is why he comes to me at the end of the day to show me the special effects space movie he’s just made or the book he’s just “published”. So even though even a domestic anti-goddesses such as myself sometimes has to draw a line between the dirty socks on the floor to establish benchmarks for distinguishing the a laboratory from a trashcan with a bunkbed in it, the laboratory is part of what makes Thing2 grow.  

It’s also why, at the end of a book about a little boy who has his own idea about how to clean room, I decided to let that idea win out.

That Mom just isn’t Right


At the beginning of the summer thing one and I traded spaces. He wanted privacy in the attic office/guest room (translation: at least one story between him and T2),  I wanted a workspace with a window downstairs,  and T2 wanted me close enough closer to him.  

So, for the second time this year, I relocated my desk and printer to a new home. The first time I moved them out of a tiny windowless room with a small skylight whose main selling feature was a two walls  of books.  now I know somethings not right in my head, because it took less than two months before I decided I’d rather be surrounded by the books and paintings then look out the window.

Now I know somethings not right in my head, because it took less than two months before I decided I’d rather be surrounded by the books and paintings then look out the window.

And as John Lennon might’ve said if he had been a nerdy hermit, you might say I’m a bit goofy, but I can’t believe I’m the only one. I hope someday you’ll join me (in your own little cave, of course) and the world will unwind with a few books or even just one.

Rules to be Broken


One of the great things about DIY publishing is that you get to break rules when you feel like they need to be broken.

One of the rules in traditional publishing it’s the children’s picture books should be 32 pages. There are a few exceptions, but not many. The irony is that those exceptions often tend to be exceptional.

As I’m perusing books pilfered from Thing2’s bookshelf, some of the most dogeared titles — The Giving Tree, Where The Wild Things Are — break rules with regard to page length. 

As I dig deeper, I also notice that the books that still stand out for us are those that may not have perfect “story book” endings but are somehow still satisfying. They may hint at a darker side of life but enlighten their readers. 

They do something truly exceptional. They trust children.

As I’m whittling words and laying out spreads, I’m keeping in mind that there is at least one rule I don’t want to break – and that’s to trust kids.

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Layers

Most people wear multiple hats in their daily lives.  Me, I don't just have hats.......I have a whole closet full of costumes and superhero identities and one recurring problem...I'm never sure which one is my secret identity...  The Real Me  Clearly it's time for a little fall cleaning.  But this weekend I needed my geek gear to help a new friend (Pamela Rickenbach of Blue Star Equiculture)  build a blog at a workshop we were part of..Then I went home, put on my Wife-Mom super identity (a.k.a  Frumpella, Domestic Anti-Diva)......had a nice dinner with my guys......and decided that fall cleaning (like all cleaning) is a crock. Layers are better anyway. That's how Superwoman does it... Right?
Most people wear multiple hats in their daily lives. Me, I don’t just have hats…….I have a whole closet full of costumes and superhero identities and one recurring problem…I’m never sure which one is my secret identity… The Real Me Clearly it’s time for a little fall cleaning. But this weekend I needed my geek gear to help a new friend (Pamela Rickenbach of Blue Star Equiculture) build a blog at a workshop we were part of..Then I went home, put on my Wife-Mom super identity (a.k.a Frumpella, Domestic Anti-Diva)……had a nice dinner with my guys……and decided that fall cleaning (like all cleaning) is a crock. Layers are better anyway. That’s how Superwoman does it… Right?

 

It’s In My Job Description

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I'm trying, with limited success, to work three jobs. I got the one that pays the bills for 40 to 50 hours a week. I've got the one I took on when the Big Guy and I decided to become parents. And I've got the one that I'm still auditioning for – The one I get up at – still early, Buddy, don't you want to go back to bed? – 4AM to scribble in my notebook and doodle in my sketchbook for.

I slept in today. It was 5 AM when I finally dragged myself out of bed and into the shower, but I figured I had enough time before the rest of the house was awake – Stop that, kid – to get through a story revision – No you cant have the remote when everyone still asleep.
Thing2 usually does his own figuring on Saturday mornings, however. Like most seven-year-olds he has a sixth sense that tells his body clock when it's a school morning and went to get up early. Today the body clock was working perfectly, and as I sat down with my notebook and a short story I'm updating, somebody padded out in his jammies and socks.

Now, I'm sitting on the recliner with my story in my notebook and no daylight or molecules between me and my seven-year-old. i'm still editing and writing. I don't know if these are the kind of working conditions that Louisa May Alcott had to suffer through when she was an aspiring writer, but I figure scribbling away with a giggly seven-year-old – Cut it out! wrapped around my writing elbow is in my next job's description.

I can get used to that. The pay isn't so great, but the benefits are hard to beat.