Friday, March 2, 2012
Don't Use Psychology On Your Wife
I am writing a “novel.” I am putting “novel” in quotations because I find that “putting things in quotations” makes things appear “less pretentious.”
A few months ago, I had two chapters and a lot of problems. For instance, I didn’t know how my “novel” would end. This is a serious problem discussed in detail in the imposing “Plot and Structure” book I picked up years ago when I was a part of the Writer’s Digest Book Club. I belonged to a lot of book clubs back in the day. There was the Disney Book Club, the Cookbook Book Club, and the Writer’s Digest Book Club. Never mind that I didn’t have kids and didn't cook or write. I had dreams. And writing a “novel” has been a dream of mine since I first picked up a pen to write the thrilling short story, “I Wish My Parents Would Get Me a Dog.” (I was so naïve back at six.)
Today, I have 8 chapters, a notebook I carry around with me in case I suddenly get inspired right there in line at Rite Aid, those incredible Sharpie no-bleed pens, Papermate pencils, a sort of outline in the aforementioned notebook, a complete set of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons for when I get discouraged and feel like crying, and most importantly, an ending.
I have an ending.
Several months ago, I read the first chapter to my husband, who is the meanest person in the world. He loves me, but he can be very, very cruel. He gave me “constructive criticism.” I was told my theme was cliché and that my choice of certain words “ridiculous.” Then, he gave me a kiss on the forehead and told me to work on it.
I’m not even kidding.
Last night, I asked John why he hadn’t asked me how my “novel” was going. He put down his book and said, “How is your novel going?”
“Do you remember what it was about?”
“Yes, of course I remember what it was about.”
He didn’t, which really doesn’t bode well for me, I guess. He asked for the “manuscript.” I refused because his last criticism had gutted me.
“I gave you constructive criticism!” he protested.
“NO!” I said. “You gave me criticism. Constructive criticism means saying some nice things, too.”
“Actually, psychologists say you shouldn’t say nice things when giving constructive criticism because when you actually criticize, the person won’t take you seriously. So, no, I didn’t tell you good things. I told you helpful things.”
First of all, men, never use psychology on your wife, especially when she’s writing a “novel.”
Second of all, I can find no such evidence of his above thesis. Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D says to sandwich criticism in between layers of positivity. Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus has the most awesome name I've ever heard and therefore I believe everything he says.
Finally, I’m reluctant to ever let John read anything of mine ever again, though undoubtedly I will because I actually respect his stupid mean opinion.
This is all leading up to the following: I may ask one of you to read my “novel” one day soon, and when I do, I only ask that you please use the sandwich method of constructive criticism.
(If people are going to use psychology on me, I should at least be allowed to choose the type of psychology.)