Fifty Shades of Ink, Part 5: The Epic Conclusion

batman as writerFifty Shades of Ink. Episode 5: The Epic Conclusion

 And so, dear reader, this was my hellish life for the next three weeks. I would wake groggily from nightmares of hostile commas and semi-colons, and plod to the editing chamber, and sit down in front of my poor tattered manuscript and attempt to struggle my way through Noel’s editorial commands. I would try, try, try to fix what he wanted fix, and add what he wanted added, and delete what he wanted deleted.

Noel himself would stop by the editing chamber from time to time, and ask for an update on my progress, and sometimes read a bit of what I had been working on. Never a word of praise crossed his lips, but the barrage of molten, soul-crushing criticism was constant. I felt my confidence as a writer draining away like the blood draining from a vampire’s victim into the vampire. Noel would casually drop obscure literary terminology, like irony and hyperbole, as if I was supposed to know this snooty kind of technical jargon. He would shoot down every one of my justifications. Sometimes his insults were so rich and evocative they felt weirdly like praise.

“This is fecal matter,” he would say, holding up a page I’d devoted hours of revision to. “Honestly, this is actual fecal matter, as if you have the power of transmuting the written word into noxious substances.”

Or he would read back to me one of my own sentences — “Possessed of a tomboy’s fresh-faced outdoorsy good looks and a pair of sparkling green eyes, Pemberley was also as smart as a whip” – and then he would gaze at my silently with a look of cold hatred. Once I dared to question his rejection of one of my sentences. It was a perfectly good sentence which read Pemberley realized with a pounding heart that she might just be falling heels over head in love with this rugged goat farmer.

“I took the cliché about head over heels and I flipped it around!” I protested. “That took creativity!”

 “Robin,” he said witheringly, “your entire book is a cliché.”

I took it, reader. I put up with it all. Lord knows why. I may have been falling in love with him, just as Pemberley found herself falling in love with Traff against her will in my novel. At those times I chastised myself, “What’s wrong with you? He treats you like crap and you come back for more. Are you honestly just attracted to this guy because of his wealth, power, and good looks?” And the answer would come back to me in a small, sheepish voice, “Duh, yeah.”

 But at last there the fateful day that I’d had enough. We had just finished going over one of what I considered my best scenes:

“I want you like no human being has ever wanted another,” Traff said gruffly as he gripped her supple arms with his brawny own pair of arms. “Pemberley, goddamnit, I love you.”

 “And … I … you,” Pemberley breathed, hardly daring to believe what she was speaking. But it was true. Oh joyous truth. She loved him. And he loved her. They loved each other. And she knew that they always would.

After he’d read this passage aloud, Noel pushed back his chair, stood up, and exited the editing chamber. The door slid shut. A moment later I heard a muffled scream of ultimate agony from his office. Then Noel came back into the room.

 “Forgive me,” he said. “I had to leave for a moment, otherwise I think I might well have murdered you for that last sin against everything I hold dear.”

 I rose from my chair, my face crimson with anger, shame, fear, and assorted other emotions too jumbled together to name.

 “That’s the last straw!” I vociferated at him. “I won’t take anymore of this from you! I won’t! You’re terrible! My book is good! It’s good, and you’re wrong!”

 Snuffling and choking back tears, I began to gather up the pages scattered over the table and stuff them into my satchel.

 “What are you doing?” Noel asked me.

 “I’m leaving,” I cried. “I’m done. I don’t need you. I’m … I’m going to publish this book and … and … people will love it and … I’ll show you.”

 Noel smiled, and for the first time I thought I saw genuine sadness in his eyes. 

 “If you leave now, it’s truly over. There’s no going back. You understand that? Your novel will remain a stench-ridden atrocity that no publisher will touch with a Hazmat suit. You walk out that door and you will never know what it means to be a real writer, Robin Hackwright.”

 “You’re wrong!” I shouted. “You’re wrong, wrong, wrong!”

 I rushed from the room, and caught the next flight back home to my small town, and I never saw Noel Poundscribe again.

And, well, you know the rest, dear reader. Of course you do. Because I self-published my novel, Love Among the Goats, and people bought it, and it suddenly took off, became an online, viral, worldwide sensation in a matter of months, and you most likely bought a copy and read it, like everyone else ($8.99 on Amazon). And now a famous director is making it into a movie, starring famous actors, and I’m rich and I’m famous myself, and yes, it all seems like a dream now, but it isn’t. There’s even an audio version read by Benelux Comboverbotch or whatever his name is.

Yes, I showed that rotten Noel Poundscribe that I didn’t need him. That no one needs an editor. All you need is good writing and believe in yourself. You can do it, too, dear reader, just like I did. (Check Robin”s website for when her wildly popular seminar on Achieving Your Writing Dreams comes to your town. Early ticket-buyers get $100 off).

Oh, and God, too. I have to thank God for all he’s done for me. Thanks, God!

And yet, it’s true that once in a while I step back from it all and think about Noel. His passion for language, for writing, for words. And I find myself wondering, what if? What if Noel was right about my book? What if most people are gullible lemmings who buy and love a book not because it’s actually good but simply because everyone else is buying it? What if I really have foisted a steaming pile of toxic waste on the world and gotten away with it? What if my book has actually contributed to the sad decay of culture into shallow stupidism and I’m nothing more than a fatuous, self-deluding purveyor of worthless crap?

At times like that, well, I check my bank account and what I find there reassures me. I remember once again that I’ve found my rightful place in the universe.

There’s lots of money here, silly, I tell myself, which means you’re the hero of this tale.



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