Sunday, May 1, 2016

In which Primo argues with me about my book

Working on the book. Primo reading over my shoulder. He says, "My dad didn't say that! It was my mom!"

He is referring to this:

Sly: Are you coming for Thanksgiving? Are you coming for Christmas?
Primo: No, I don’t think so.
Days later, an email from Sly:
Sly: I had written another email but decided not to send it.We will feel abandoned if you don't come for Christmas.

* That is not passive aggressive AT ALL. Either send the email or don’t send the email, but if you don’t send it, what’s the point of mentioning it other than to imply that it was so awful that it could not be sent?

Me: Yeah, but if I have your mom say it, it makes her character more unlikeable.

Primo: My dad would never say that.

Me: The problem is that I need to have a happy ending, which means redeeming your mom, which means the reader needs to be able to like her. The reader doesn't have to love her and it's OK for your mom to start out unlikeable, but then we have to show her to be likeable underneath it all.

Primo: And?

Me: If I actually ascribe to your mother everything she actually said, readers will not like her at all. So I have to put some of the mean things she said and did on your dad.

Primo [the engineer]: But my dad would NEVER say "We will feel abandoned." He would never say that he had written an email and decided not to send it.

Me: This is fiction.


  1. The footnote has a link to your computer, revealing your first name.

    1. Still there....

    2. I still see the link with your name. It doesn't go anywhere, but the address is still there.

    3. Apparently, logging into your blog from your phone while you are at a wedding and trying to handle links is not the right way to do it.

  2. Catherine from CanadaMonday, May 02, 2016

    I used to write a parenting column for a national newspaper. If I mentioned one of my children, I ALWAYS got their approval before sending it in. Sometimes, I'd tighten up the story, or switch things around a bit to make it funnier, or more direct.
    My kids would object, "Mom, that's not how it happened." To which I'd always answer, "You should never let the facts get in the way of the Truth."

  3. I feel your pain. Mine also corrects me on irrelevant details, or "mentions" that I left out the long boring parts of a story that don't change anything.

  4. I hope your book ends with you telling Primo to have a nice life by himself, because he sure comes across as a controlling whiny jerk in your blog.

    1. Then I am clearly not doing a good job of writing about him, because he is not.

    2. It is clear that Primo is not a controlling whiny jerk. Unfortunately I have found that some people only focus on one thing or have a knee jerk reaction to one aspect and fail to keep it in context. And there is a lot of context.

    3. fwiw, I do not get that impression at all. I get a guy who is fairly compassionate, pretty optimistic, very literal, and under a lot of stress made worse by internalized family dynamics. Which reduce his coping skills now and then.

      aka Most People Under A Lot of Stress

      (believe me, right now my husband is on the recovery side of being sicker than he has apparently ever been in his life. It alternately makes him ubercranky and ubergrateful for me. During one of the cranky moments the other day I said "Geez, you're worse than me on the [monthly cycle]" He said "I know! It's why I'm so grateful you're putting up with me!")

      Even if I only judge Primo by what I've seen over the past year or so, I still come up with somebody who is okay with being called on it when he's too far out there, tries to be considerate *to everyone*, and accepts boundaries set by Goldie. Not always happily and easily, but accepts them.

      - AC


    4. Hi GD,

      Smells like a troll.
      Just hold your nose and step right over him/her.

    5. To me, Primo reads very much like a victim of the family in which he was reared. I recognize a lot of his avoidance behaviors, and his desire to smooth, smooth, smooth everything over because that was his job from the age when he was too damned young to HAVE a job in the family. As for his behavior away from the family, or now that his parents are gone.... well, there are bound to be some growing pains, and I'm sure we don't read about the worst of it but I think it's nice to read about a couple that's determined to face every day as a team rather than look for loopholes, weak spots, and excuses to bail.