Short Story Tuesday: The minority party’s response
First of all, a massive honkin’ thank you to everyone who took the time to read and comment on my story. I had a former boss who liked to say that feedback is a gift. It’s a cliche for a reason. I love that you were specific in what you had to say, rather than just giving it A 76 because it’s got a good beat, but it’s hard to dance to.
I’m leaving these comments, not to argue your critiques, but to open up the process–at least my process–and maybe treat this as a lab of sorts. The goal is for the flaws to be exposed and then fixed. If the concept works, the whole thing will be useful. If it doesn’t work, well, at least you’ll know what not to do.
Overall, I think there was some confusion around the relationship between Ruth and Mindy. Ruth is Mindy’s mom. Ruth has been a bad mom through most of her life, and Mindy’s really been the parent in the house, mostly because of Ruth’s past–because she has empathy for someone who’s been through that.
And because as bad a mom as Ruth was, she was better than her parents were. In fact, Mindy loves her mother so much that she foregos a relationship with Pat to support her. So I think the ambiguity around the name is important to the story, but I think I can do some other things better to take away some of the confusion and discomfort around the name ambiguity.
But there is no incest, so if I left that feeling, I need to work on that. The redeeming aspect of Ruth–and I need to add some to make this clearer, is that she kept Mindy away from sexual abuse, in spite of her being sexually abused herself.
I had two characters in mind when I developed Ruth. The first is Mary’s mom on In Plain Sight, a loose woman trying to overcome a difficult past and never quite making it all the way. She’s an alcoholic and something of a leech. She tries to be a better person, but sometimes fails horribly. But when things are hard, she’s the one Mary turns to for comfort. At some point, Ruth would have done the saem for Mindy.
The second is, believe it or not, Archie Bunker. There’s a very powerful scene in an episode of All in the Family where Archie explains to Mike how his father handled things. The physical abuse–at a level that would be considered criminal today–is something Archie kept away from his daughter (the scene really begins at about 1:45). And for all the yelling and turmoil, she always knew she was loved. So I have work to do with Ruth.
As for the editing–yeah, I concede that. I am awful at proofing my own work. But the goal was to get this someplace between a first draft and the final product, which is what I did.
So there’s more work to do.