Let’s talk about something difficult. Say someone near and dear to you is having a book published. Say you are totally beside-yourself pleased by it. You have talked through every angle of the publishing process, cover, and reading/promoting process. You’re going to traveling to a far city for the book launch, and by god you’re even going to wear a dress. (Maybe.)

But maybe you’re walking home from dinner, and it’s been a really long day. You’re both tired. And when he says something about having a book of short stories by accident, maybe your temper flares. You explain that you killed your poetry book this summer. That book had been written by accident, in a way; you write enough poems, you have a book. It doesn’t quite make sense writing it out. But he adds that he didn’t want you to kill your poetry book.

And so you say that the poetry manuscript had it coming. But he didn’t know because he hadn’t read the whole thing. He’s always supported your poetry, even when you were publishing a lot more than he was. And you don’t pause to think about how your roles are reversed, how he is having a lot of literary success, and you aren’t; but previously, you were the one publishing and getting writing residencies. Not a book, but still, success.

And your success and support is part of what made him begin to submit again. You had not been crowing about your own publications for years. You were publishing more than your writing group, and then you were publishing more than your young man. But it is not his fault that you are quiet about your successes. Publishing poems is not something you brag about previous jobs, because the general population has less than no interest in poetry. Also, you are hesitant about asking your non-poet friends to attend poetry readings.

The time your good friend’s girlfriend laughed in your face and said, “Why would I go to a poetry reading, when I could see the [movie premiere of Pokeman]?” has stuck with you for perhaps too long.

Abandoning the second-person, which makes the story easier to tell, as if it didn’t happen to me yesterday, as if I wasn’t the tired person needling her tired husband. With all the good feelings, there is a bit of jealousy. I want him to have a book. But I also wanted him to ask me about my book. I wanted to brainstorm some publication ideas. I wanted him to read my fucking chapbook, which survived the demise of my manuscript. And so I printed it out and put it on his desk. And I’ve begun to, if not crow, then at least mention on facebook when something exciting writerwise happens to me.

Are your friends/spouses/children tired of listening to you rattle on about writing? Crow here. All are welcome.


8 responses to “Crows

  1. My family has zero interest in my writing. My latest book as been finished for months now and no one has asked to read it. I sent it to my sister, who may read it eventually. Or not.

    I do talk about my writing sometimes, regardless of the glazed-over looks they give me, but it’s in the nature of how-was-your-day talk: Oh, still struggling with chapter three, this book is a bitch, etc. They don’t know what it’s about or the characters’ names or anything. I’m on my own. This used to hurt my feelings and maybe still does when I’m in the mood to get hurt, but generally I just slog along and look for support elsewhere. There’s plenty of it out there.

    • This hurts my feelings and it’s not even my work. Families. *sigh*

      Honestly, this week, I think my family and friends both would rather I crow on about writing than have to listen to me rant on about domestic abuse and wanting to boycott the NFL. 😉

  2. About fifteen years ago, I asked my husband to read a short story which I was going to submit to a contest. He agreed, took it, sat down . . . and then turned on the TV. Because “I’m not really interested right now.”

    “Right now” meant “at all”, but I learned that along the way.

  3. My husband is one of those people who always gets what he wants. It never occurs to him he won’t be successful at something. He’d never tolerate it. He wants it. There, done deal. He is a hard worker, but he is also the luckiest person I’ve ever met. Numerous conversations start with, “you’ll never believe what happened.” Yes actually, I will. I, on the other hand, am invisible. A loser who toils in quiet, biting her nails to the quick, never quite reaching her destination. I am happy for him – for us. I am. But I am so jealous I could burn with it.

  4. The only time my husband reads my column is when it’s about him or I shove one in his face and say “read’, this one is about one of the kids. My girls are very supportive and my friends…they hardly ever know when it’s about them.

  5. I am an academic (“Dr” is the clue), and we have moronic, asinine systems for crowing. In some countries it’s called REF (research excellence framework), in others it’s called PBRF (performance based research funding) or Tenure Review. They’ve got systems for counting, auditing, grading, evaluating and ranking our publications (i-values, h-values, impact factors, citations numbers, journal rankings…). And, these systems all suck in particular, culturally-specific ways (not the least is turning our creative endeavours into “outputs”). On the other hand, with these sucky systems, I don’t need to crow. Everyone is keeping track and knows what I am doing without me having to peep. I do my peeping on my blog which even my husband follows. My biggest accomplishment, I think, is not my books, rather it’s the blog posting that got 1200 hits (and still counting)…

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