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
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
He went to my desk and began
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.
He disappeared through the
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
“Are you asleep?”
“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
“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.”
But you implied something and left me hanging.” I sighed. “And you know
how my mind works.”
“Unfortunately, I do. You’re a
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
“I wouldn’t have asked you if I
He propped himself up on his
elbows. “I wouldn’t send it.”
“You asked me, and I’m telling
“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
He lifted his head again and
called over his shoulder. “Why don’t you write another one?”
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the deadline to submit this one is
first thing in the morning.”
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
I took a deep breath, preparing
for round two.
And just when I was getting
ready to ask him if he was sure he hadn’t liked my
But of course he was certain; it
just wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.
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
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
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
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
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
Oh well, I have to run now. I’m
on a deadline, and I need my husband to read my submission.