11:00:12 am on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

My Simon
AJ Robinson

"They have such a great author-editor relationship.

When you’re a writer, you often seek help. As for me, I have critique groups, online friends and even friends and family. The latter s tend not be the best. Some people might find that odd, but it’s true. After all, your friends and family often won’t tell you what you truly need to know in order to improve your writing.

Every writer needs a Simon.

If you want to boost your writing, you need a “Simon.” Anyone that watched American Idol or some of the other talent shows understands what I mean. Simon Cowell may be nasty, but he’s honest, brutally honest.

Well, I found my “Simon.” It wasn’t whom I was expecting. Right now, my latest novel is in the editing process, which, as any author will tell you, can be tough. No, scratch that, calculus is tough, getting your manuscript back from an editor is devastating!

Do you want to see a grown man cry? Hand him back his “baby,” his manuscript, after its “nanny” has beaten the poor darling up. As a writer, my stories are my babies, my offspring, and to change them in any way as performing plastic surgery on a super model.

It’s possible, but why.

More important, we authors don’t want to alter our books! As perfect as we think our children are, they can have faults and there’s nothing wrong with a little “corrective treatment” to get them on the path of success. It’s only that it’s hard to make those changes, especially when you’re told that your “perfect” plot point or “incredible” speech or monologue are bland clichés, stereotypes or way too obvious.

In my case, my editor is telling me my ending needs work. Thus, I’ve been looking for input, and I got some from an unlikely source – my “Simon” – my mother. She has yet to read the book, and so I gave her a rundown of the overall plot of book one and the outline for the sequel. She was very thorough in her questions, very detailed in her analysis, and quite direct in her opinions. She gave me a list of ideas, we talked about all of them and I thanked her most profusely.

Did I mention my mother is ninety-two?

Now, we don’t expect a typical person, on reaching that age, to be exactly all that with it, as the saying goes. They may not be the sharpest tool in the shed. My grandparents both lived to be ninety-three, nothing wrong with that, however; they declined quite a bit during those final years. My Aunt Marny, a wonderful woman, who I spent many great visits with, took a very steep decline in her last years. When I took my daughter to see her for the last time, it was painful to see what little was left of her mind. I thought back to our years together and wished with all my heart that Alexa could have known her back then.

As for my mother, she’s still sharp and she gave me some great insights into my story. Hanging up the phone, I smiled. It made me very happy that I can still share such things with her. Years from now, reading that book or giving someone a copy, I’ll think of her again, and the smile will return. Once more, my mother helped and guided me in the journey of my life.

It’s nice that’s she’s till in my life.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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