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August 27, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Everyone’s a Critic

This is going to sound lame coming from someone with a blog with 500+ posts, but I am petrified to let people read what I write.  And all I have ever wanted to do was write.  The blog is very therapeutic for this strange syndrome, but mostly I am referring to the stories I come up with.  For a while I didn’t like to write anything that remotely resembled an opinion on something, but I am over that.  I figure if I can stick up for my ideas in real life, why can’t I do so if they are on paper?  (heh, “paper.”  What’s paper?) 

I think that there is a permanence in writing stuff down.  It’s what comes back to haunt politicians and celebrities and evangelical leaders in Colorado Springs.  It’s why presidential candidates are found hiding their third-grade diaries because if anyone ever found out they didn’t like a teacher in primary school forty years ago, they would be toast on the campaign trail. 

I can also pinpoint the event that made me say I Will Never Show Anyone What I Write.  I am over the event itself, but the effects still linger.

I was in the second or third grade.  It had been a bad day on the playground.  A really bad day.  I don’t remember the specific events, I just remember the feeling of something bad happening and that it was caused by a boy.  Or boys.  I went home later that day and did what I often did.  I got out a piece of construction paper, folded some typing paper inside of it, stapled it together and started Writing A Book.  (After I drew the cover first.  Drawing the cover was always the best part.)  This book would fix the bad day.  It would be my magnum opus.  I filled every page with story and illustrations about a world run by third-grade girls.  Boys no longer existed.  (Just to interject here, I do find this a terrifying proposition a few decades later.  The part where the world is run by third grade girls especially.) 

I was proud of my work.  It was sure to make me a young millionaire.  Sure it was only twenty pages or so, but the illustrations..the illustrations!  The girls roamed the earth foraging for food and building shelters and surviving internal conflicts…all without those pesky playground leeches…little boys!  I carefully touched up some of the drawings and brought my masterpiece downstairs to show my parents.

I remember my mom saying something like “That’s nice,” and returning to whatever else was going on.  Okay, “nice” is good, but where’s the Pulitzer?  I brought it to my dad who was always encouraging me to do everything unconventionally and made him stop what he was doing and read my epic.

He read it very carefully, lingering on the pages a long time.  He flipped back and forth.  Surely the greatest compliments imaginable were brewing in there. 

Finally he set down the book.  The yellow construction-paper cover started to absorb a small coffee spill.  Foreshadowing?

“I think you should start over,” he said.  “This would never happen.”

Huh?

“You could never have a world without boys,” he said.  The criticism kept going but I wasn’t listening.  I was devastated.  Devastated!  I cried and cried and grabbed my book and ran up to my room and ripped it into shreds.  I vowed never to let anyone read what I wrote again.  Ever.  Never. 

Looking back I see that my dad was trying to help.  He probably thought, in his Dad-like ways, that with a few tweaks the book might actually go somewhere, someday.  I’m sure he didn’t think that the pages were actually a form of playground therapy.  In either case, and as stupid as it sounds, this single event has taken over twenty years to “get over.”  My last major back surgery took three months to do basic recovery, and during that time I wrote a book.  It’s my “first manuscript” and in writing circles there’s a belief that your first work should go directly into the file cabinet and you should start on your second, which is what I am doing.  I have not sent the first arount to too many places, though I should, but I am going very slowly in throwing caution to the wind.

Anyway this whole post was leading up to an event that took place last night involving Screen Peeking, but I will tell you about that later.  I ran out of time.  I have to go to my day job now.

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13 Comments

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  1. Christine / Aug 31 2008 6:09 pm

    I’ve adored everything I’ve ever read by you!

  2. nycentral57 / Aug 30 2008 11:18 am

    Dear Maleesha
    I am in need of help. You said you had something like 500 posts. I am brand new to this blogging thing. when I log on I am totally lost. I dont know where to go to start a new post or where to find others post. Everything I wrote the other day was strictly by accident. In short I do not know how to get around on here at all. If you would not mind giving me a quick lesson on where to go and what to do I would really appreciate it. My Email address is nycentral57@comcast.net Please Help.!!!!!!

    Just so you know, I did email you with some info. Did you get it, or did it go into your spam box?

  3. Matt / Aug 29 2008 10:07 pm

    haha, awesome post. It’s terrifying when people read something that I’ve written when I’ve tried to be “serious.” As far as the world run by 3rd grade girls goes, you can experience that at Build-A-Bear on a Saturday afternoon!

  4. nycentral57 / Aug 28 2008 7:46 am

    So Maleesha

    When did boys stop picking thier nose’s
    🙂
    Robert…..

  5. Allison / Aug 28 2008 3:37 am

    Are you going to illustrate your new manuscripts?

    I’m a little rusty…but I could try I guess.

  6. Ian / Aug 27 2008 9:02 pm

    You might enjoy the comic book series called Y: The Last Man – about a world run by girls.

  7. romi41 / Aug 27 2008 7:56 pm

    You know…every time one of your posts breaks off into one of your stories I oh so enjoy it…you pick up my imagination and take it with you. You are a fantastic writer, really! 🙂 Show the world, show everyone 😉

  8. morethananelectrician / Aug 27 2008 5:19 pm

    I’ll bet if you wrote a book now about the world being run by third grade girls, it would be very interesting and be adored by third grade girls.

    I think you might be on to something. Let me call the marketing department.

  9. bluesuit12 / Aug 27 2008 1:29 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog so I’m sure your book is good also. I think you have a way of making the stories your write relatable and funny. I say keep sending out your manuscript and keep writing!

  10. cherikooka / Aug 27 2008 10:49 am

    Wil Wheaton has a great blog today about writing… http://wilwheaton.typepad.com

    I can’t wait to read what you are working on now. I admire your tenacity — I need to get some.

  11. Carli / Aug 27 2008 9:38 am

    For what it’s worth, I was always insanely jealous of your ability to write books with such ease. As much as I tried, all I could ever do was come up with a title and maybe the first page. But I did come up with one hell of a pen name if I must say so myself….”Salvadeen Alfadeen.” That rocks!

  12. crisitunity / Aug 27 2008 8:28 am

    I wish I had the space here to respond to this post…suffice it to say that my parents had done versions of this MANY times to my juvenile attempts at writing, and even to one juvenile attempt to stand up to them. My parents were more about suppressed smiles and abject, red-penned criticism than the kindness which was apparently your father’s intention, though. I’m glad you got over it and I hope to see you in print one day.

    Well hmm. I don’t know what to say.

  13. nycentral57 / Aug 27 2008 7:25 am

    Dear Maleesha
    I liked your little story about your traumatic childhood experience and the long drawn out consequences because of it. I am happy to hear that you finally came to see that your fathers critique was merely his way of trying to be helpful to you. I hope you will continue to write and post your thoughts on these blogs.I myself also like to write and I not afraid for other people to read it so much for the ideas I have, but more for my grammar and punctuation of which I am quite embarrassed. Thank God for Spell checker’s but what I really need is a grammar and punctuation checker of which I have never heard of yet. I have been looking for online websites that can help you with grammar and spelling but I have yet to find one that is really helpful. Anyway I hope to read more of your posts.
    Sincerely
    Robert ( Yikes !!!!! a Boy….:) )

    Oh, Robert. I grew up to like boys. After they quit picking their noses, anyway. Thanks for stopping by!!

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