Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pleasing a reviewer

Over the years I've had a few reviews of my work. Some of the reviews have appeared in journals, others on websites, and still others in newspapers. Some have been positive, and some have been negative. But no response to my work has been quite like the review I got tonight from Aneirin.

I'd been struggling for a couple of hours to get my son to bed, and I knew his insomnia was my fault. I'd disrupted his sleep pattern earlier in the day by letting him nap in the car, and ramped up his blood sugar levels by feeding him a couple of ice creams. We'd turned the lights off in his bedroom, lain down, and calmed down - I get more agitated than him, in these situations - when he demanded that I tell him a story.

I improvised a rather trite and formulaic tale of a bear that goes wandering in the woods, gets lost, and then encounters, as evening shadows are growing, a huge lulu (that's the word for owl that Aneirin learned in Tonga last year) with bright yellow eyes. At first the bear is afraid, but the lulu quickly explains that it wants to be his friend, and offers to fly him home. The bear climbs on the owl's back, and the two of them rise high above the trees, so that they can see stars, and a moon as big and yellow as the owl's eyes.

When a little blue house - blue is Aneirin's favourite colour at the moment - appears in the grassland beyond the forest, the bear recognises his home, and the owl expertly descends, landing in the sandpit outside the front door (bears, I explained to Aneirin, adore sandpits as much as he does). The bear's mother and father open the door anxiously, and chastise him for getting lost. They smile, though, when the bear explains how he got home, and the owl is invited inside, where a dinner of pizza and honey - what else do hungry bears eat? - has just been pulled from the oven.

"That's really good story Dad" Aneirin announced, after I'd finished improvising. He closed his eyes and began a smooth descent into sleep. I'd never been more relieved and pleased by a review.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


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