I know, you all think that the life of the freelance working mom means going back to bed after the kids are sent off to school, drinking pots of coffee in our bunny-feet pajamas, and, possibly eating bagels at our computers while we wait for inspiration to strike. Well, okay, fair enough. But that’s only half the fun. Sometimes inspiration is not all that easy to come by. We might, just to shake things up, go into the kitchen for more coffee. We might Google ourselves, or check Amazon for readers’ reviews. Sometimes, while engaging in the latter, we might come across a thoughtful missive from a dear reader, much like one recently posted, who felt the need to unburden herself of this, regarding my book:
“…As if her contempt for children isn't enough, she puts the cherry on the sundae by displaying her contempt for cats and dogs. Her venom is particularly strong toward cats. I came away from the book feeling as if she hates any creature under five feet tall. I feel sorry for her family, friends, neighbors, or anyone else who must endure this woman's selfish attitude toward life. Don't waste the money on this book. I'm astounded that it even got published…. Dreadful!”
So, well, what can I do? The books are already written, and to really put the cherry on the sundae (I love that) my family, friends and neighbors will sadly be forced endure me for longer than they can imagine. And pity the poor cats, for I accused of them of arrogance. How cruel do those words sound to me now. Forgive me, tender-hearted kitties. Oh, that’s right. Cats can’t read. But people can, and do, and even when they hate a book, often insist on finishing it to the last dreadful drop and hammering out a scathing review. Inexplicably, this same reader felt the need to read my second book, and post a similarly nasty assessment on Amazon. There is nothing to be done about those people. But then, I received the following, forwarded to me from my very nice Mommy Track’d editor:
“…I'm quite concerned to find an essay
updating the meaning of the "N-Word," or rather making
light, or ironic use of it in a recent issue of
Mommy Track'd, which I have come to love. As I'm
sure you know, that word comes with such a long,
bitterly painful history, as painful today as it was
before the civil rights movement, that I find its use
as a catchy title to call attention to the importance
of saying no to children both shocking and morally
repugnant…I know you would
take an editor's pen to "The N-Word" if you'd had a
chance to think about it - which is why I'm writing
you about it."
Okay, but seriously. To describe how my head exploded in an exhilarating fusion of mirth and exasperation wouldn’t do justice to the moment. My very nice editor, being rightly sensitive to the feelings of a sensitive reader, wondered how I felt about changing the title of my piece. My piece, by the way, which was in no way about the actual n-word, but the title of which was a clever word-play designed to catch the reader’s eye and get them to think about the fact that the word “No” appears to be almost taboo to certain parents, it is used so rarely. Taboo, see? Like a certain word beginning with the letter “n” which was not, in any way, referenced in my piece. I wasn’t making light of people who have had to endure the actual word being hurled at them. I wasn’t making “ironic use” of the word itself, but rather the use of the euphemism. That said, ultimately being a creature of etiquette and loathe to hurt feelings unnecessarily, I told my editor she could change the title.
By the way, said editor seemed sympathetic, and is amenable to me continuing to exercise my first amendment rights/shoot off my mouth on a regular basis for Mommy Track’d. I also asked her if I could cuss and smoke and drink. It’s not that I do all three together all that often, but I don’t like being told not to.