I love writing for publication. I especially love getting those meager checks in the mail. It makes me feel like a real (albeit poor) writer. The main problem with writing for publication, as I see it, is that you can’t control who reads what you write. And there are many, many people out there who were never taught to read critically in school. Oh, they can read “critically:” they complain about how ignorant the author is, or they insult people who comment in public forums. But they can’t read critically – they can’t read for irony, or subtext, or metaphor or any of those other things that writers might employ.
Don’t believe me? Go onto any decent website – Newsweek, or Slate, or whatever – and pick an article that makes you think “yes, okay, that seems to make sense,” and then click on comments. There are usually a few people who make some smart observations, followed by a few people insulting those people for their observations, followed by others calling them on it, at which point the insulters call the others names, and then someone jumps in to point out that none of this would be a problem if only women would stay home where they belong, or if only the government weren’t run by communist sissies, or if California wouldn’t let gay people marry, or something else to that effect – doesn’t matter what they spew, as it’ll have nothing to do with the actual article. I actually saw one site recently where a woman who signed herself “Rose” left a comment, whereupon some other clown responded “Rose actually means A**HOLE in some languages.”
Where does all that anger and idiocy come from, really?
I bring this up because someone left a comment on the Post’s website after my most recent article that indicated he (she?) completely did not understand what I was trying to write. He claims to be “overwhelmed by [my] pompous and insensitive attitude.” He goes on to state that in a city where so many single moms struggle to raise their kids alone, I shouldn’t complain about my dad.
Okay, so that’s the only reason I’m bringing this up. In case anyone out there is wondering, I WASN’T complaining about my dad. I started out by saying “I had the worst kind of dad,” but here’s the thing: I was actually hoping that as you read on, you’d realize that I had the BEST kind of dad - the kind who would stop whatever he was doing and spend hours with me at the table. At the time, I would have been happy with a dismissive dad, with one who just gave me a quick answer and then ignored me, but even then, when I was stuck at the table doing homework for hours, I knew I was lucky to have a dad who cared enough to drop what he was doing, whenever I asked.
My dad spent hours building teensy tinsy furniture for my dollhouse. My dad once bought a bright orange windbreaker with a gift card he got, not because it was what he wanted, but because then there would be enough money left on the gift card to buy us a football, too. That’s the kind of dad I had.
Growing up I had the best kind of dad, okay? But I was trying to be funny. Perhaps the title they gave the article obscured this fact, or perhaps I’m really not as funny as I like to think I am.
Anyway, normally I just laugh at commenters and move right along, but maybe my dad is sitting at home right now, depressed, thinking to himself “How could she say that I was the worst dad? I thought I did okay.” (Hey, he could be thinking that – engineers aren’t known for their sense of humor. Darn. There I go trying to be funny again.) So just in case someone else out there didn’t get the article: it was supposed to be funny! This particular reader just didn’t get it, and perhaps there are others out there also shaking their heads in confusion. So now you know.
One other about thing this guy: he wrote that I described my husband as “part action-hero, part literary genius.” Okay, so that part is actually true. What can I say? I married well.