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The dark side of writing

And by dark side, I don't mean writer's block, or ceaseless editing in pursuit of ever-elusive perfection, or hundreds of rejected submissions, or countless phone calls unreturned by agents or editors, or critical and commercial indifference to one's craft. Instead, witness this stirring bit of domestic horror.

Writing has become the focus of his life over the past five years. All of these books eventually get self-published.

As an author, you may think this a marvelous way to spend retirement. I am introverted enough to see its attraction, too. But here is the thing -- my father is not a good writer. He is not even a reader -- he prefers TV and movies to novels. He is a dabbler. He is a dabbler who wants to be rich and famous, but he always chooses arts in which he has no skill or training. His various projects, intended to earn him millions, have included writing music, writing screenplays and scripts for Hollywood, writing novels and nonfiction, and oil painting.

All of the output of these endeavors have been pretty terrible.

Dabbling at writing when you have absolutely no talent isn't bad in itself - after all, it's important to keep busy during retirement. But if you do, keep your writing to yourself, but by no means should you ever cross the line of human decency by inflicting your dubious artistic efforts on your family and, even worse, demanding that they give you feedback. Positive feedback only, that is.

As fathers go, this guy makes John Cheever look like Ward Cleaver. His poor, poor family. They have my deepest condolences.

December 7, 2007 in Books | Permalink