Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Excuse me, Mom, but there's a blowfly in your cereal?

As part of my outlining process, I have tacked sheets of kraft paper to my wall beside my desk. At a glance, I can view the various stages of death, any notes I have made about the new manuscript, and any comments that come to me about the plot. This is my method for outlining -- it hasn't changed in the last decade.

Over the weekend my son -- he's eight -- waltzed in, looked at the 'artwork' and said: "Mommy? What are you coloring on your wall?"

I am not big on sugar coating. I told him that it was an outline on the stages of death. He stared at it for a while, no doubt reading everything that was on there, and finally asked: "What are blowflies?"

Explaining something like the bug movements on a dead body to a child who doesn't yet fully understand how the body functions -- not like anyone really does -- is something that I would rather not have to do. Ask me anything, kid, just please don't look to me for an introduction into the wonderful world of death...

I am not that lucky. My son, ever inquisitive, peppered me with questions about the process. He can read - something he couldn't do when I outlined Unclean when he was two. This meant that he read and then asked. About EVERYTHING that was in the outline. Even the really gross things about the relaxing of muscles that control bodily functions. And at the end of the question and answer period, all he had to say was:

"Huh. That's pretty cool."

Cool? Hardly the term I would use to summarize the conversation, but he is my son, after all.

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