Friday, November 09, 2007

Show and Tell

The Wild West

A couple of days ago I told my kids about my month long career as a novelist. My younger son who is 10 years old was especially enthusiastic. I read the first few pages aloud to him before bed one night. It was a good exercise for me to hear my work read aloud and get a sense of the cadence of the language and it was fun to share with him.
Next thing I know Mr. Enthusiasm has decided that he wants to share the story with his entire English class. He has always been especially fond of show and tell and seems to ask to bring something in to school fairly often even though formal show and tell probably ended in First Grade. I sort of choked at the idea of having him bring in what is still very much a work in progress.
On the other hand I felt I would be very much a wimp if I asked him to keep this a secret so I grudgingly told him that he could bring in a bit "later." Suffice to say, he wore me down. Last night I printed the first 10 pages for him, probably secretly hoping that he would forget he had it or that his teacher wouldn't want to do anything with it. Well, today was my first public reading as a fledgling author. Apparently the first page was read aloud in class and they are planning to read one page a day henceforward.
I wonder what kind of critics a class of 5th graders and an English teacher will make. Will they share my son's enthusiasm? I'm kind of squirming with discomfort at the thought, but if I ever plan to submit anything for publication, I know I need to get over this.
His eagerness to show my work gave me pause for a moment. Independent of my discomfort at coming out of the closet, as it were, I realized what a wonderful thing it is to have my son that proud of me. It makes me sad to admit that this interaction could never have occurred between my mother and myself. The closest I remember our ever getting to this show and tell experience is when she took an essay I had written in high school and that I was especially proud of and gave it to a friend of hers to plagiarize for her college history essay. This was done without my knowledge or consent. I was not in the least bit pleased or flattered.
For now it is ever onward. I'm at 19170 words (32 pages)! I'm still on track and have an entire weekend before me.


self taught artist said...

love love love it
good for him for asking and you for allowing. that is a big deal :)
it is very touching that he wanted to bring it and read and very cool they are going to spend time reading some every day.

JL said...

While I have a daughter, I have never physically given birth, and likely never will...

...but I picture creating a book as similar to having a baby; a cocktail of pride, anxiety, fear, and love.

When I sent my book to the printer the agony and anxiety was indescribable. It was my baby! My baby!

Good for you!

Andrée said...

a couple of thoughts here:
• my fifth graders are totally in love with their parents (which I don't remember being but there you go) and year after year this happens. So you have that going for you. Oh I don't mean that the way it sounds! But it is a wonderful thing, and I envy it (I don't have that anymore with thirtysomethings like when they were 10). OK, this is turning into a mess here. But it's great age.

• Next time, put some cuss words in there, and then you can honestly say that it is not appropriate!

• Fifth graders are really brutally honest, without meaning to be mean, so what they tell you will be unvarnished and valuable.

Do we get to read it?

sarala said...

Thanks guys. The physical pain is so far less than childbirth. As for the mental? I'll let you know when the labor and delivery are over. I seem to spend half my day living in my character's head.
Regarding cussing--does "f---ing" count? That is the baddest I've gotten.
Regarding sharing the contents:
I'm not trusting enough to put much on the net since there are thieves everywhere. I've already seen blog sites that steal phrases from this blog and others.

Kathe said...

Kudos to you for allowing him to take it (or part of it anyway) to school! See? You're getting braver! Keep up the GREAT WORK! :^)

Tarakuanyin said...

Good for you! I imagine if you can hold the interest of a class of fifth graders, you're doing well. They tend to have short attention spans. I'm working on a YA novel that I started three years ago. I read the first couple of chapters to a young friend of mine, then gave up on it. But she's been nagging me about it for three years, so I've decided my Christmas present to her will be for me to finish it for her. It's been a haul!

the individual voice said...

That is just the sweetest mother-son first-novel-writing story I ever heard. Courageous of both of you to go ahead with it. Good job!