Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Prince of Darkness - Part Deux

I had my last tutorial with the POD (Prince of Darkness) earlier this week to discuss the submissions for my final portfolio. My grade depends on good, solid stories and since the POD has hated almost everything (with obvious abhorrent passion) that I've submitted - with the exception of the science fiction story which I created just to cease the verbal abuse - I didn't know what I was going to do. Oh, the POD. The more I got to know the POD, the more he reminded me of my husband. I don't know whether that's good or bad, but it just seems I'm surrounded by intellects who think they know it all. And here I stand as the sacrificial babe to their mental sadistic games.

When I started this course I vented continuously to my husband about the POD: "I hate him, I can't stand him, he's a moron, he doesn't know beans, how the hell did he ever get a Ph.D., what friggin' college is giving away Ph.D.'s cause I want one, what possessed me, how am I ever going to get through this," yadda, yadda, yadda, ad nauseam. And, hubby, being hubby, let me rattle on until I was spent, not once ceasing his reading (God forbid) because, after all, the man must read his 500,000 words per day or he's not happy and because after 30 years of marriage these rants have ceased to provide amusement.

He waits for me to finish and then says, "What are you worried about? All your professors have always commented on how well you write and so will he. He just has a different method of teaching, that's all. He's testing you. He plans to break you so he can remold you. Watch." And he would go back to reading his paper or book because as if explaining this to someone who claims she's intelligent is just too much for him to deal with and at which point he undoubtedly begins to wonder how he ever married someone with the brain capacity of a gnat.

The POD was ruthless. The POD took pleasure in my discontent, inconsiderate to how I felt. The POD wanted to own my soul. I hated him. Passionately. But stronger than my hate was my back, which was up. He was not going to win. Oh, PODdy, PODdy, PODdy, you don't know me when I'm angry.

So here I was sitting in his office ready to fight him to the death for that "A" that I so rightly deserved, if not, just for the sole reason of having survived his mental and emotional abuse: a survivor's medal of honor, if you will. But the POD had been abducted and in his place was an alien in human form whom I was unfamiliar with. And he was a nice alien. A freak of nature alien, because aliens generally are not nice, now are they? Hmmm? Maybe this is all a dream. This can't be the POD. Not my meanie, insufferable POD.

He begins speaking. "First off, let me start by saying you have your A."

Huh? I wasn't ready for this. Who is this man?

"Your work, your commitment, your level of writing, your imagination - boy, you have some imagination - is all "A" material."

Hmm? Really, dude, because all along I sensed you were a wee bit dissatisfied with what I was producing; in fact, hate would be the best word used here.

This alien POD apparently read minds as well. He smiles and says, "I see."

Huh? What do you see?

"Listen," he continues, "you're a very good writer. That's always been a given, and I saw that from your first submission. But after reading a few of your stories I saw the style of writing you preferred and were comfortable in. Too comfortable, in fact. I wanted to take you out of this comfort zone and force you to try something different. I wanted you to see your potential and see for yourself that you could write something outside of what you were used to. I think it was a challenge that paid off."

He's trying to break you so he can remold you. That little know-it-all bastard I had at home was right all along.

"And you really surprised me with this science fiction story. I don't think you realize how good this is. I mean, this is really good stuff. I think you might just be a science fiction writer. How does that strike you?"

Great. I wanted to write about light and love and happy, happy people and now you're telling me that my soul is dark? Oh, PODdy, what did I ever do to you? 

The rest of the meeting we talk about my submissions and how he has seen me grow as a writer and I concur that his mandatory science fiction suggestion (can you say oxymoron?) took me out of my element altogether and proved to be a good thing. I add, for dramatic purposes because after all I am a writer and can't help myself, how I found myself hitting walls left and right, pulling my hair, and eating my nails to the quick because I couldn't figure out how to do it. There were times I even considered digging my eyeballs out of their sockets with my bare hands just to see if I could birth a story from that. Then, I finally tell him, all of a sudden the doors of my imagination opened and a story began to unfold; it took a life of its own. It went through many transformations, each submission with major revisions until I finally began to understand, feel, and live the characters. They became real to me; I had gone through the wall. But, still, I had problems because even though I had these fantastic, crazy visions in my head of how I wanted the story to be told, where I wanted it to lead, how I wanted it to read, how I wanted to describe certain alien things without sounding elementary, etc.,  I was having difficulty translating that into words. Translating sci-fi ideas into words is not easy for this chick. It was frustrating, to say the least.

"Writing is not easy; writing shouldn't be easy. Welcome to the world of writers. And you are a natural born writer because your imagination is wild and you have no problem when it comes to words."

I turned around. Who is he speaking to? I was speechless. Natural born writer, huh? Hey, I should put that on my resume and get the hell out of Dodge and find me a better gig.

"All these stories you submitted are seeds to future books. They are all very imaginative and good and could be expanded upon. And you managed to learn what many of my students refuse to learn: to be ruthless and critical with their work and dispense with words, paragraphs, even characters that you are in love with simply because it does not work."

I'm feeling my face redden from all of these unexpected compliments.

He continues, "I find many students have a hard time doing this, they don't like to edit and feel they own those words. But we don't own our stories, now do we Rebecca? The stories own us."

*sigh* I hate it when he makes sense. "Absolutely, and thank you. But which stories should I submit?" 

"All of them."

"All of them? Even Abigail Reborn? Because I have to agree with you in retrospect that that was a shitty piece of work."

"Even Abigail Reborn. Yes. It may have been shitty piece of work but the idea was fantastic." *sigh* Okay, so now you like me. Hubbie said you did. I'm the moron. It's official.

He then proceeds to tell me that for next semester he wants me to write a screenplay. I inform him I've never written one before. I've written plays, but never screenplays and wouldn't even know where to begin. He smiles. I've seen that smile before. It's the doors of Hell opening up. He goes to his bookshelf and retrieves a copy of one of his father's screenplays. His father was an Academy Award winning screenwriter.

"Here. Read this. Now go write me a screenplay."

I was floored. In my hands I held a copy of an Academy Award winning screenplay typed in one of typewriters of the 1950s. You could see the areas where the keys got jammed together to create an extra letter in a word and how it was erased delicately and with care. I was speechless. I get up and say goodbye and on my way out he thanks me for taking the course and being so involved and tells me,"it's a pleasure to have students like you in class so other students can see what good writing looks like and what commitment is all about."

Uh-huh, yeah, yeah.....but I was already floating back to my office on the cloud that held the screenplay that I was so humbled to be given. Pfft! Who needs accolades? That's for amateurs.

So I'm on a high for the rest of the day and soon liken the class to childbirth. All of a sudden I forget the pain. I have my last class with him that night and afterwards a classmate and I begin talking about our tutorials, grades and such. She informs me that the POD was always very fond of me.

"Stop it! Come on, you saw how harsh he was with me! I saw him handle many students with kid gloves, but with me he was harsh. Why, I ask you? What did I ever do to him?"

She smiles. "Listen, in the tutorials I had with him he always spoke about you and said that there were only two good writers in that class, you being one of them. And, that if I wanted to be a good writer that I should read your submissions and see how you wrote."

 I thought I could not float any higher. My head got so big I could barely fit it in my car.

And to my POD, I am sorry. Oh, PODdy POD POD, what an enigma you turned out to be. To think I spoke ill of you, just one more reason why I am cursed to eternity, because I am what you call a mensa - and no that is not the bright connotation you think it implies - that's Spanish for "dumb."

Photo, courtesy of Deviant Art

December 16, 2008


Genie Sea said...

I laughed until I cried.

Yes indeed, the old "I am being hard on you so you can grow" method. I forgot about that one. It's kind of like growth through trauma. I still don't understand why it would have been so difficult to just say, "Rebecca, I need you to come of your comfort zone, so try this..." I believe it would have achieved the same, only with less turmoil. Right, I forgot. "Writers are born out of great suffering."

You are cursed... to be a great writer. In fact, you are a great writer. The POD/Lucifers of the world won't affect that.

Lori Skoog said...

Outstanding post. There is something good about stretching... It's like when a horse starts to say "enough of this?.....and put your butt into his back, getting some of the best movement ever. You did it.
This screenplay writing sounds VERY interesting.

Tammy Brierly said...

I'm loving your journey into hell. This guy is a good teacher, so I'm taking my jealous comment back. I'm so happy for you!

The Real Mother Hen said...

Wow that belief from him is so powerful that I find myself speechless. You really got a good teacher there. And yes you are one hell of a writer. You are really that good. Every word flows out of this blog is beautiful.

Unknown said...

Is it okay to laugh at this? One quick thing: you said you were the sacrificial babe to their sadistic games, but I think the metaphor would be more effective if you carried it out: sacrificial babe to sadistic gods, or mind-gods. Not criticizing, just saying. At least everything turned out well in the end.

rebecca said...


You're absolutely correct about the sacrificial-god connection, but dude, right metaphor or not, I'm not ready to call these two gods....uh-uh, not ready, that's just asking for trouble here in the home "god" he would be even more insufferable! LOL!

Anonymous said...

At least you got to write science fiction. The English professor I mentioned in my comment to your previous post told me that all genre fiction was "junk food" and that I would regret reading it one day. She was seriously not a nice person.

Her latest work at the time was a collection of poems based on the myth of Niobe, who boasted that she was better than the mother of Apollo and Artemis because she had 14 children as opposed to only 2. Apollo and Artemis, of course, proceeded to kill all of her children. So that's fourteen poems about dead children. Good times, indeed.

CoyoteFe said...

Yea! You deserve every pain, doubt, snit and head-bang on the way to glory. Your husband, your POD (what a dom!) and your guardian angel know what's what. Take the trail on the left on your way! When you snarled about your husband and his 500,000 words per diem, I shouted!

Grrrrl ... you live.

Kristan Hoffman said...

Interesting, and very movie-like.

Out of curiosity, do you have anything of yours (stories or whatnot) online to read?

nuke said...

Did you expect anything less than an "A" You know you are one of the best writers. Sometimes teachers are hard on their students because they know they can expect more from them or see something that the student doesn't see. Although he made you nutty you became comfortable and confident writing outside of your norm. Now he wants to challenge you and have you write a screenplay. I think that's AMAZING!!!! Lucifer sees something in you, MOM!!!!!

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

rebecca, I am smiling from ear to ear. We don't know the worth of heaven until we have been to hell. POD has shown you the way. Congratulations...I know you deserve the praise and certainly have earned it!


Brian Miller said...

wow. what a marvelous romp...

Linda Bob Grifins Brin Korbetis said...

very impressive tale.
Happy Tuesday!