My daughter called me last night in near hysteria. At a reading last night in Seattle someone compared her writing to Tom Robbins. This is the literary equivalent of being told your penis is cute or that you remind someone of an elf while your fantasy self was picturing Gweneth Paltrow or a naughty dictator.
Cienna makes her living freelance writing in Seattle. While fiction and creative non-fiction are her preference, she makes the bulk of her money writing ads for the internet. I don't have any examples handy, but they are similar to these:
"Consider a career in Dental Hygiene; the pay isn't bad and you can always find a hobby that makes you seem more interesting!"
"These playful boots can be warn with anything; casual dresses, jeans, pajamas…they dress up your sleepwear while taking all the pressure off your dog-hair covered clothing. Comfortable and …very comfortable, you'll disregard what your mother says about hideous. You and these footwear belong together. They put the "love" back in "slovenly"…
"Do you love Mother and cats? Forever? All of an animal, or just the head? Could be that you would enjoy taxidermy. Combine your passion with fashion decor. Legitimize roadkill. Uncle Arvid's Carcass Academy, located on Old Highway 95, 2 miles from the landfill, Your Town, USA. Class starts TODAY…"
Only her ads are dry and humorless because that is what her online internet content customers want. It is a soul sucking job for a fiction writer. I couldn't do it because references to Pol Pot and unicorns farting butterflies and harmony would always creep into my serious writing.
I have only read one Tom Robbins book…years ago I read Roadside Attraction. It was entertaining, but not great. It was… like eating cake from Albertsons. Great if you are stoned.
"IS MY WRITING WHIMSICAL, MOTHER?" Cienna cried on the other end of the phone. "WILL HIPPIES AND WOMEN WITH CATS LIKE IT??!!"
I haven't read her recent work. She won't let me yet because she "isn't ready"… Writing is the one thing of which I can be a harsh critic. This is her first outright work of fiction. I've enjoyed her creative non-fiction. I wouldn't describe anything she does as fanciful, not since her 4th grade obsession with dolphins … Still….
I didn't raise my children to produce something described as a tour de force on the back of a supermarket paperback.
"Have you considered a career in taxidermy?" I asked. "With your love of squirrels and maple planks…"
Sadly, she called during happy hour. I'm a bad mother. Hippies never like me.