In Which Robin Williams Posthumously Declares My Work to Be a Dud.



Today I greeted the hour before dawn with an alarming wake up call, fresh from a dream.  In this dream, Robin Williams had just finished reading my manuscript.

He was totally and completely bored of my story and dismissed me with a toss of the papers and an eye roll.

I can still see him sitting in the arm chair, annoyed that I wasted his time.

How shameful to be rejected this way by such an important and beloved man, who was not only deeply funny but compassionate and kind.  My friend recently suggested that I journal about what he represents for me.  I can only say that he represents all the emotions, from joy to deepest, darkest pain.  I thought people who suffered would understand.

I felt so diminished by this dream that I woke up certain that my memoir was a terrible, redundant, morose, self-indulgent piece of trash.  I should throw it all away, the sooner the better. So I could get going on something really worthwhile.  Like making folks laugh and feel uplifted.

The thing is, how to get there?  To that jubilant place?  I often find that the proximity of tears and laughter is closer than we know. But in my intense focus on trying to figure it all out, I miss the punch lines.

It has been said of Shakespeare that the difference between his comedies and his tragedies are only the structure; a comedy starts off sad and ends in joy, a tragedy starts off happy and ends in pain.  Both are the same, containing the same range of emotion, just ordered in a different way.

So then I wondered, what if I were to revise it in a way that reads like a tragic comedy of errors, the entertaining life of a fool so blind that everyone around her recognized the illusions that caused her to fall. Flat on her face. Over and over.

When will we get to the part when she realizes that only the stark, unsugared truth gets her out of trouble.

No more denials. No more rosy glasses.  No more wishing for something to be real and pretending it is.

And then I get back to the revising and I can’t bear to laugh at myself.  And I want so much to laugh.  To belly chuckle.  To peal like bells on Sunday.  To laugh so hard I snort. To laugh and gasp for air.

But I still don’t remember it like that, fool that I was.

Now that my first rejection is behind me, and a great big celebrity level rejection at that, maybe I can stop being afraid of the future rejection slips to come later.  First cuts being the deepest…


Put the Inner Critic Out



Here’s a fun little experiment for those who struggle with the inner critic.  Try kicking her out and letting her sit on your desk.  Then you can talk back to her when the writing is happening.

My little hag is named Finnola, inspired by a character in Catherine Cooper’s The Golden Acorn.  I made her for a children’s book club gathering in the woods.  Once all the children found her hiding place, I took her home.  In between moon time, where she might sit on my nightstand…she works in my writing space.  I wonder how chatty she will be when I sit back down to work?