Deborah Anderson

In 2000, Deborah Anderson left the medical field to care for her elderly mother. Soon after, she began writing. Her articles have appeared in Cross Times, Focus on the Family, Sisters in the Lord, Riders and Reapers, Rainbow Faith, FaithWriters’ Books, FaithWriters’ Magazine, and the bulletins for Dayspring Foursquare Church. She is a member of TWV, ACFW, CWG, and FCW and is currently working on her first novel. Married 29 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. She also spends her time rescuing cats, reading novels, and taking nature walks. You can contact Deborah at DAnderson955 [at] aol [dot] com.

Cross-Eyed and Conflicted

I remember my first few stories. And those are some scary memories, let me tell you.

As a beginner, I didn’t know what the words critique partner meant, so the person closest to me, my husband, became my first victim. I know folks say writers shouldn’t use family members for critiques, because they don’t feel they give objective viewpoints, but those people haven’t met my husband.

After finishing an article one evening, I approached him. “Honey, would you mind reading my story?”

He stared at the TV. “Okay.”

Seconds later, he picked up the remote and clicked off the TV. “I was getting ready to go to bed anyway.”

He went to my desk and began reading.

Nearly fifteen minutes later, he still sat there. I paced behind him, looking over his shoulder with each pass. What is he doing? Analyzing a specimen, or reading?

He pushed away from my desk and stood. “Yep.” Then he headed toward the bedroom.

“Well?” I said to his back.

“It’s okay.”

He disappeared through the doorway.

I went back and read the story, trying to pretend I was viewing someone else’s work instead of my own, thinking that if I did so, I’d see what he saw—or whatever he didn’t. I nearly went cross-eyed, but nothing jumped off the page to indicate what he didn’t like.

I shook my head. I didn’t understand his response. Just okay? Humph. You come back here right now, mister.

I walked into the bedroom doorway and stood there. The light from the living room shone into the room, illuminating my husband, flat on his back, his arm thrown over his forehead.

“Are you asleep?”

“Not anymore.”

“Yeah right. You wouldn’t have heard me otherwise.” I drummed my fingers against the doorframe. “What don’t you like?”


“My story. What don’t you like?”

“Geez, Deb. You pick the worst times to have a conversation.”

“And you always pick the worst time to sucker punch me and walk away.”

He moved his arm and raised his head. “Sucker punch? I’ve never laid a hand on you.”

“Not literally. But you implied something and left me hanging.” I sighed. “And you know how my mind works.”

“Unfortunately, I do. You’re a conflicted individual.”


He chuckled.

Well, at least one of us was laughing. “Then why did you marry me?”

“Because I know God put us together. Let’s face it—no other man could handle you, and I promise you, no other woman could handle me.”

I smiled. “You’re right.”

I shifted back to the subject. “Seriously, though, what’s the problem?”

He sighed. “Do you really want to know?”

“I wouldn’t have asked you if I didn’t.”

He propped himself up on his elbows. “I wouldn’t send it.”


“You asked me, and I’m telling you.”

“But you’re not telling me why.

“I just don’t think you should.” He lay back down and rolled over on his side, facing the opposite direction. I was getting mighty tired of looking at the man’s back.

He lifted his head again and called over his shoulder. “Why don’t you write another one?”

“Gee. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the deadline to submit this one is first thing in the morning.”

Okay, so I could have stayed up and written another one, but I didn’t want to. And after his remarks, well, it made me more determined than ever to send the one I’d written. It’s kind of like someone dangling a juicy pork chop in front of my face, telling me I can’t have a bite. Let me assure you, one way or another I’ll get a bite—whether it’s of the pork chop or something else.

I took a deep breath, preparing for round two.

He snored.

And just when I was getting ready to ask him if he was sure he hadn’t liked my work.

But of course he was certain; it just wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.

I walked back to my desk and plopped down in the chair. I read the article again. Maybe he’s right. What if it is lousy?

But then I wondered, What if it isn’t as bad as he thinks? I’ll never know if I don’t hit the SEND button.

So I did.

What puzzled me most is how he had liked another story I’d written right before this one. And in all honesty, I didn’t think it was any good. But because of what he said at the time, I thought I might be missing something, like now. Come to find out, though, it was poorly written and didn’t fare so well.

Several days later, I received notice that my story was going to publish. Well, my little dumpling, I guess it wasn’t so crummy after all.

When my beloved came home from work, I approached him in the kitchen. “Hey, I have good news.”

He tossed his keys onto the counter. “What?”

I grinned like a woman who had eaten a fat, juicy pork chop. “My story is going to publish.”

“Oh, you wrote another one?”

I felt my countenance falling fast. “No. I sent the one you didn’t like.”


“What do you mean, ‘really’?”

“Look, honey. I just got in from work. Can’t you talk to me about this later?”

Humph. Don’t talk after work. Don’t yap after dinner while he’s glued to the TV. Don’t get chatty at bedtime. Let’s see, that left time to talk during dinner, which meant I had fifteen minutes, twenty tops.

I suddenly looked (and felt) like a woman who had eaten too many pork chops.

Determined to make a dramatic exit, I whirled and stormed out of the room.

His voice hollered behind me. “Where are you going?”

“Don’t talk to me right now. I’m busy.”

As I stomped into the bedroom, something dawned on me. I shouldn’t be upset. I mean, I asked the poor man his opinion, didn’t I?

Not only that, I decided the situation might be more beneficial to me than I had originally thought. I’ll use him for my gauge-o-meter.

From then on, each time I wrote a story, I asked him to read it. Those he didn’t like, I submitted. Those he did, I didn’t. And you know what?

It worked like a charm—until he changed things up on me.

I don’t know when it happened or how, but he started choosing the stories I thought were good. Nay, nay. This can’t be happening.

But it was—and still is.

Now after proofing my work, he tells me he likes everything. How dare he? How am I supposed to know now if something is bad or not?

And just when I thought I had a good thing going.

I still don’t have a critique partner, although maybe I should, but as I said before, folks don’t know my husband. In addition, I don’t know how many people would “get” my sparkling personality.

Okay, I lied. Snarky is more like it.

Oh well, I have to run now. I’m on a deadline, and I need my husband to read my submission.


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