guilty of being ...

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Ugly Babies

The first book I wrote.

It's bad. So very bad. I used adverbs in sets of three. (I liked the rhythm of them, what can I say?) The characters were one-dimensional. The story was hackneyed.

It was bad.

And yet, there is a basic core there, a basic story idea, which is actually kind of cool. And in fact several people suggested I rewrite it once I had a better handle on, um, how to write.

Last year I was clearing out a closet and found an old box. I pulled the thing out, blew the dust off of it, and opened it.

Oh my gawd.

It was the bad book.

And I thought, okay, enough time has passed, maybe I should just peek in and see what it's really like....

I gasped in horror and laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks and sometimes hid my eyes -- I can't believe I let people read this!

And damn if I don't love every ugly, stupid, hackneyed page of it.

It's ugly, but it's my baby, and forever and ever will be my baby, and I love it in a way that is unholy.

Not satisfied to keep and protect my own ugly babies, I tend to inherit those of the rest of the family. I've got some of the ugliest pieces of old cheap porcelain you can imagine. Tacky stuff. But this dish was my Nana's, and that teacup was ... I forget who it belonged to but it must have been somebody important, right?

And that angel over there was my grandmother's friend's and she named it after her dead husband and how can you get rid of an angel named after somebody dead's dead husband?

And then there's the art.

My great-grandmother painted these poppies over a hundred years ago. Then my grandmother came along and "cleaned" them with linseed oil, which darkened them AND collected dust and nicotine.... well, what am I going to do? Nobody else will have it, and it was painted by my great-grandmother, did I mention that? It's so dark you can hardly tell what it is, but it's round, did you notice? A round picture! Now that's kinda cool and it has a very old frame....

Yeah. I know.

She painted this one, too. It's hard to tell in these photos (and how do you not have a flash on them?) but you can actually see drips of linseed crud on it. This one isn't as dark, but I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing. I mean with this one, you can actually see the details, and no offense to my great-grandmother but ... well, it really does have a gorgeous frame, doesn't it?

You know, the more I think about it, maybe my grandmother didn't smear that linseed oil on it by mistake. Ya think?

Now this last one, it isn't that ugly. It was painted by my grandfather. And while it's not going to make the guys on Antiques Roadshow have palpitations (or at least, not good palpitations) it's really kind of nice in a gentleman's smoking room kind of way.

In fact, there are other family members who would like to have it -- but I have conditions.

They have to take all the ugly stuff with it. AND hang it on the wall/put it out on display. In other words, they have to love those ugly babies the way I have.

But not my book.

This ugly baby is mine.


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