Monday, June 1, 2009

The Day Job, Dad, and Deductive Reasoning

Summer Program has begun at the Boys & Girls Club, and that means the staff operates on half-energy for more than a full day's work. Baseball's in full swing (no pun intended), and school's out, so we're corralling kids when we open in the morning, and dealing with parents, volunteers, and the general public during the games at night. (Thank God, I'm out of most of the evening situations, especially since the grownups can act more childish than the children, who just want to play ball, and aren't caught up in the whole adult ego thing.)

A couple posts back, I mentioned my dad reading the first episode of my serial, Thieves' Honor. He's not a science fiction fan, nor does he read much other than nonfiction, but he likes the fantasy I'm writing (he's read the first manuscript, and is waiting for me to finish the second), so I had a thin hope he might enjoy the mildly cheesy adventures of a crew of space pirates.

Tonight, I get home at six, change shoes, grab the old-fashioned lawnmower, and blitz through front and back yards in a little over an hour. When I return to the house, there's a message on the answering machine: "This is Dad. If you survive the yard, give me a call. I read your little stories" -- Little stories, ain't that sweet? It annoys me, but I know he means the individual episodes that comprise the whole story -- "and I want to talk about them."

Turns out, he stayed up till two this morning, reading all the current episodes. "They're simple and straight-forward, and kinda fun. Rough and tumble, like a Louis L'Amour story."

The words he uses and the shrugging way he says them might seem like faint praise, but my dad read L'Amour's Westerns and detective stories throughout my childhood (and so did I, some of them many times), so a comparison to one of his favorite fiction writers is unexpected and encouraging.

"Style's not the same," he adds, "but it is. A little."

When words fail, sometimes you just gotta know the guy to know what he means.


Phy said...

I still remember, and treasure, the praise my dad gave me for The Sky Pirate chapters. It is fuel that keeps me going when all else dries up and I feel like a hack.

I recognize sincere praise when I hear it. This sounds like the real thing, not the shallow ruckus of Disney fireworks, but the enduring echo of one man clapping.

Well done, Keanan.

Keanan Brand said...

Thanks, Johne.

My sister-in-law called to ask a few techie questions that I could actually answer (I heard my brother in the background, dealing with the kiddies, the youngest of whom seemed to be running amok, and interrupted the phone call on occasion), and she laughed at Dad's way of backing into something nice to say.

New writers are warned about showing their work only to family and friends, lest all they hear is praise without objectivity. While that may have been true when I was a kid, and the adults thought my stories were "cute" or "amusing" or whatever, now I'm more apt to encounter resistance. My mom once held on to a copy of a manuscript for over a year then handed it back, unread. Said she just never found the time. However, she blitzed through stacks of published fiction.

Now, however, with this unexpected science fiction tale -- all my thanks to you, man! -- my parents are actually reading my stuff. Crazy.

Anonymous said...

Okay, my spelling's getting bad! I think your dad is really in tune this time! That was a nice compliment.

Keanan Brand said...

Jade - I guess I'm blind, 'cause I didn't catch any errors in your initial comment, but we'll go with the comment that you let stand: Yes, it is a nice compliment, and it's typical of my dad, who once said that no matter how much talent (musical, artistic, literary, etc.) was in our family, we were destined only to copy the original works of others. Well, maybe all creativity builds on the genius of others; I don't know. That's a deep topic for another time.

Anonymous said...

It is a deep subject: we get a lot of inspiration from others, especially the literary greats--I'm sure my first attempts were inspired by "The Hobbit,etc.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on that subject sometime!