Monday, October 15, 2012
Through a Glass Darkly: Is You or Is You Ain't my Baby?
Lately I have been pondering manuscript disassociation. Writers labor, often for years, over a particular literary work, and upon completion it feels much as a child to whom they have given birth. After a long arduous labor I have a five-hundred page tome. But as I examine its countenance with a narrowed eye I find myself unexpectedly dubious. The book can more accurately be represented by the teenage years - willful and determined to branch out in all kinds of independent directions despite your best efforts to tame and constrain. My Gollum moments. The novel has grown with me over the years, and I know it intimately, from the hair-growing-warts that I hope will be obscured in the dark, to the bright beauty of a moment perfectly captured. But now that my novel has reached maturity I am not sure I know it anymore. I see it through a glass darkly, a lens that warps and magnifies much as those fun house mirrors at carnivals where your reflection is elongated and compressed beyond all recognition.
I read through the paragraphs and they are so familiar to me that I skip and waltz ahead, my mind filling in the rapidly scanned in-between. As I fuss and hover, readying my teenager for life on their own, I am plagued with doubts and fears. Will this piece of work stand up under scrutiny? Will it rise fearlessly to the occasion, or does it droop and wither in places a love-blinded parent cannot see? Regardless a child must eventually leave home, and you can only prepare it to the best of your ability, and then with courage and conviction (feigned if not felt!) open the doors and send it on its way.
Perhaps it is just a question of time. Perhaps a benumbed, bleary-eyed parent, chronically sleep-deprived, and over-zinged on the java, just needs a respite. A weeks vacation from a rebellious teenager whose merits temporarily elude you. Perhaps this lovely child is easier discerned and appreciated after a week of mutual vacation. Absence making the heart grow fonder, that sort of thing. Perhaps it is a close-acquaintance issue, inevitably individuals living closely together will have their combative moments, those battles over insignificant trivialities that are subsequently and rapidly forgotten.
So in a week or so I might eye my offspring again with a less-critical eye, and perhaps see it more clearly, and ultimately acknowledge that yes indeed, 'tis my baby. Warts and all - and how can I condemn those hair-growing warts when they all came from my side of the family?