What’s Mine is Yours?

February 1, 2010 at 4:59 am (Uncategorized)

It was a momentous weekend in one important respect: Llew finished reading MS #1. He became really quite coy about it, too, shielding the paper from me as he scribbled what seemed to be a worrying number of margin notes… what on earth was he writing with such urgency and frequency? When would it stop? Why couldn’t I look? I am still finishing Wolf Hall, having turned into a terrible slow coach (I’ll tell you why: that book doesn’t travel well, it’s huge and will dislocate your shoulder in transit, so it’s been living beside my bed, a place I inhabit all too infrequently), so I was pretending to read about the slutty, shrewd Boleyns while really casting increasingly disturbed looks Llew’s way.

“What are you doing?”

Reading,” he said smugly.

“What’s that you’re writing?”

“None of your business.”

My jaw fell into my open book, shattering into a million pieces on contact.

“But…” I sputtered, “but… it’s my book.”

“I’ll stop reading if you like,” he smirked.

Mad brow knitting ensued from yours truly.

“Can’t you just show me what you’re writing?” I sulked.

“No,” came the reply.

When he finished, he was quite choked up, less because of the novel’s ending, I regret to say, than because he’s proud of me for writing it, which is also very nice. Vexingly, he still won’t show me his ardent scribbles. I can’t tell you how this shits me. At one point yesterday, I picked up the last section from his side of the bed and glanced at the back page. I squinted. I blinked, closed my eyes tight and then opened them and looked again. Nothing. The scrawl is completely illegible. I have no idea what it says. Naturally I told Llew I’d sneaked a peek, and he was outraged. A little excessively put out, if you want my opinion.

“That’s as bad as me reading your diary!” he cried.

“It’s really not,” I scoffed. “That’s completely different. Nice try, though.”

“I can’t believe you did that!”
“Don’t get too excited,” I said. “I couldn’t understand a fucking word. I fanned the pages and couldn’t make out a damn thing.”

But of course I want to know what he thought. Of course I felt and still feel entitled to read his comments – they’re ON MY WORK!!! They’re literally written in the margins of my personal, intellectual, and creative property, on the pages of my manuscript – at what point does anyone, even Llew, get to scrawl all over it and then tell me I’ll get a look in their own good time? It was maddening. More maddening still is the fact that I really do need Llew to take me through it, since it’s a masterwork of illegibility. I’m home alone as usual today and haven’t even bothered attempting a second secret viewing. There’s no point. He’s just been reading The Lost Symbol, and I felt like screaming, “You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?!”

Oh well. At least he read it. And one of these days he’ll tell me what he thought of it. In the meantime, I am back working on #2 after spending January in short story mode, so… it can wait. And so can I.



  1. Lilian Nattel said,

    Oh how aggravating! I wouldn’t be able to wait either. But he did read it and that’s awesome.

    • doctordi said,

      Yes, let’s focus on the positives, Lilian! He read it. That’s the main thing. But yeah, it’s pretty crazy-making.

  2. litlove said,

    Why won’t he tell you what he thinks? Did I miss something? I think he should give you a little something back here. That would be the kind of thing I would withhold my lovely home cooking for, should Mister Litlove be unforthcoming.

    • doctordi said,

      I don’t really know, LL… I asked him last night – we had a lovely picnic at the edge of the Botanic Gardens before the concert, looking out over the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge – and he just said we’d do it when we had a bit of time. On the day itself he begged off saying he was still digesting it, but other than that I’m not really sure what to make of it. Last night he really just wanted to know if he retained copyright on his feedback, since I was arguing that writing it on my MS meant I was entitled to read it. He disagreed – all a bit perplexing, actually.

  3. Norwichrocks said,

    Oh my god, I’d be raving with frustration if that were me. How can he not tell you what he thought? Just a few words, just to give you an idea – and put you out of your limbo misery?

    Personally, I’d go with the Lysistrata option…

    • doctordi said,

      Actually, Woo, he seems a natural at withholding. This could go on for weeks. Maybe it’s because there’s lots of criticisms and he’s scared of my reaction. He can be very blunt in his assessments, as I learned with a recent short story he didn’t like, so maybe we’re both putting off what may prove to be quite an unpleasant exercise. But I very much value his opinion and am really keen to get his feedback, even though I expect it to be quite harsh.

  4. kate said,

    Poor Llew, he better be forthcoming before your Number One Fans decide to form a lynch mob!! I think it is great that Llew read it and also good that he is giving himself time to properly digest it and provide you with thoughtful feedback. Although if it were me waiting I would be like Blackboard wailing ‘Hurry up! Hurry up!’. He was choked up at the end? Oh Di, how lovely!

  5. doctordi said,

    Poor Llew nothing, Kate – I’ve been wanting him to read it for years! And you have no idea how hard it’s been watching him pick up Dan Brown every night instead of continuing with my MS. He did admit to being scared to finish because he’s worried about the effect of his feedback (along the lines of not believing he is ‘qualified’ to give it, which I think is hooey), but it sure makes a gal feel glum watching her work come off second best night after night! But yes, I’ve no problem at all with his taking time to digest it. Yes, he was a bit choked up, and yes, it was lovely. As for the criticism itself, it’s hardly a new thing – I’m fairly inured at this point.

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