On being edited for publication…

by mollykl

Son j is a budding writer. He’s managed to achieve what I could not – he writes regularly. Currently he’s working on “The Legend of Bob”. Oh yes, and there is a part 1, 2 and as of today, 3. Son j loves his video games, particularly Minecraft and Terraria and so we also let him read books that are written for these. He gets them on his Kindle (yes my kid has a Kindle, insert your snarky comment nowhere thank you) and they are of roughly the same literary value as the trashy romance novels I buy from Amazon for 2.99 a pop. But he loves them. And he reads them. And, hey, if the kid is reading Percy Jackson, grades above his level, if he wants to read a crappy book as well I’m good with that.

The thing is, he got tired of reading what other people were writing and decided he could do better. Yesterday he took of his Legend of Bob stories to his afterschool program. He wanted to read it to everyone, but one of the staff had to read it first to make sure there was nothing objectionable in it.

Cut to 3:00 when I picked him up. The head of the program pulled me aside and told me about the story and said he couldn’t read it to the other kids because it had, and I’m quoting here, “objectionable language”. My first thought was, my being his mother, “great, he used the word fuck in a story”. But she elaborated, “the “k” word”.

Really? There’s a “k” word?

And then it kit me that she meant “killing”.

Well of course there’s a “k” word, there are zombies.

So I smiled politely, looked at son j and said, “wow, you finished your story!”

And when we got in the car I turned around and said,

“Congratulations j, you get to make the decision most writers don’t have to deal with until they reach publication: you can alter your story to get rid of what your audience doesn’t want to see, in this case the word “killing”, or you can stick to your guns and write what YOU want to, and lose readers. Either way, it’s completely your choice. You can decide, because you are in charge of your writing.”

He decided that he was going to stick to his story. Let me be clear: I was going to be proud of him regardless of what he chose, simply because it was his choice and he made it by himself.

But damn if I didn’t like that little 8-year old “fuck you if you don’t like my story as-is”.

When you’re pregnant people always give you advice about being the person you want your kid to look up to. How many say that sometimes you need to look up to your kid?

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