My brother Ken was one of the first to volunteer to proofread ‘Farley Bend’. When I forwarded the file to him, I wondered how much of himself he would see in Emily’s brother Ed. Many of Ed’s character traits are based on Ken, so I often imagined Ken as I wrote about Ed.
Ken and I discussed ‘Farley Bend’ quite a lot, particularly after he started reading the draft Imagine my dismay when Ken said, “I’m mired in chapter 16.” Dread. Shame. Panic. Ok, maybe not panic. But still… my masterpiece wasn’t even good enough to give Ken something charitable to say while he was reading the proof?
He immediately clarified his statement. Mired in Chapter 16 because of things he had going on, not because Chapter 16 was a pit of paralyzing prose. The story wasn’t dead in that chapter, it was simply that he had many other things demanding his time and attention.
In the months that followed Ken’s mired comment, we have referred to it often. It is part of our history now, and will likely be discussed for years to come. Will Ken volunteer to proof Volume II? Probably. As long as I promise that Chapter 16 will be very well written.
I know I’ve used the wrong word and conveyed the wrong message many times. One of the reasons I prefer email to telephone conversation is the built-in safeguard of seeing my words take shape on the screen before I share my views. Thus I have an opportunity to edit unfortunate or inaccurate wording. This does not prevent me from misaddressing the occasional email message … but that’s a story for another post.