All Complaints Must Be Submitted in Writing

by Mrs. Smith on December 29, 2017

Sometimes in the course of homeschooling, kids don’t like assignments.

By “sometimes,” I mean, like, daily-if-not-hourly.

So, naturally, I developed a coping mechanism brilliant parenting strategy.

All complaints must be submitted in writing.

They hated that. I loved it. There’s nothing more endearing than hate mail from a nine year old.

Tonight it was rather flung back in my face as I continued reading what can only be described as the most poorly written plot in the world. It’s bad, folks. Really bad.

Then why are you reading it? my family kept asking.
Put it down, then! they said, if it’s that awful, then stop!

I couldn’t.
Well, I could have, actually. It’s… How do I put this into words?
There’s this element of disbelief. It’s not just that someone wrote a book chock full of anachronisms. Someone actually edited this book. (I think I found only one typo.) Someone actually published it! Rapunzel talking about baked Alaska was only the beginning. There were anachronisms on almost every page. It was rather like a train wreck — You can’t believe it’s happening, you don’t want to see it, but you can’t peel yourself away.

Its one saving grace was that the author clearly enjoyed writing. I could tell. It’s not her fault someone agreed to publish it. Reading this book through was kind of like watching a little kid on stage who really can’t sing in tune at all, but is just so in love with singing that you can’t help but be glad they’re up there anyway.

Growing wearing of my whining after only a few moments, my eldest firmly told me,

“Mom. All complaints must be submitted in writing.”


Be careful what you ask for, I said.
Food for the blog, I thought.

But now that the moment has come, I find I don’t quite know what to say!

I’m generally kind of a lily-livered pansy in real life. I play nice. I have a hard time saying what I’m really thinking if I don’t think it’ll go over well. I look on the bright side and I turn a blind eye to even the most obvious faults and foibles. You just never know why people do what they do.

Books are different, though.

If the author were here I would heartily congratulate her for getting published and then ask if she had the backbone to handle my honest opinion. And then I’d kindly, lovingly, tear this thing apart page by page and show her exactly why her editors did her an incredible disservice in letting that thing find its way into a library in its current state. It’s a great first draft, but my red pencil would have been all over it. She’s got heart but, oh, heavens. Who let this thing off the drawing board?!

Merciless, I tell you. I have a merciless red pencil and if it weren’t a library book I probably would have taken it to those pages just so I could feel better.

For that matter, I still want to have words with Shannon Hale about her sequel to Goose Girl. Ohhhhh, yes, speaking of putting complaints in writing —

SHAME ON YOU, Shannon, for throwing something together like that. Goose Girl was brilliant. The well-developed side character with the affinity for the fire element was a beautiful segway into a sequel. I caught that potential, held my breath and hoped… and then when I discovered Enna Burning, oh! The anticipation! There are, what? 4 books in the Goose Girl world? YES, oh happy day!

Tragic let down. Super lame book, followed by another book so lame I couldn’t get through the first half of it. It was too painful to read on, when I expected the literary magic infused throughout Goose Girl to be there, too. Your heart wasn’t in it. Don’t do that! I don’t care how much they wanted sequels or how much they promised to pay you.

(Shout out to JK Rowling for spoiling us forever. It’s too painfully obvious now when there are series that aren’t carefully thought through from start to finish.)

You just can’t scrap something like together and desecrate your captivating imaginary country with inferior writing. Especially not you, Shannon. Not when I know you have the potential to put out writing so beautiful I’m tempted to wallpaper a room with it. Tsk tsk.

But okay. Where was I?

All complaints must be submitted in writing.

I can see why it’s such a brilliant parenting strategy. Writing it out is way less fun that venting it verbally. Sigh. The parade has been thoroughly rained on.

I’ve lived most of my life with the impression that eventually I’ll get a novel out there. Or publish articles. Or children’s stories. Or something. I love writing things that people enjoy reading. (Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!) It’s glorious.

I’m starting to wonder, though, if that’s not quite my literary mission in life after all – or at the very least, if it’s not quite the whole picture.

Maybe I’m not actually an author in hiding.

Maybe I’m an editor. A really, really good editor.

…. and the plot thickens.


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