P.O.E.M., June 22, 2013

Ravinia Festival

Highland Park, IL


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P.O.E.M.

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GK: After this message from the Professional Organization of English Majors. So you've written a book entitled THE BLOSSOMING LIGHT OF SOLITUDE and it got a bad review:

FN: Pointless, self-indulgent, badly written. Blechhhhh. (RASPBERRY) I spit on this book. (HAWK, SPIT) I heap dirt on it. (SFX) Fie on it. It is no good. And the author, the talentless Sierra Goodman, ought to be tied to a stake and pelted with rotten fish. (SFX) There. And there! (SFX) And there! (SFX) Go and write no more.

(SS SOFT WEEPING)

GK: Bad reviews are painful. And of course we take them personally. The standard wisdom is to let criticism roll off your back and ignore it and of course that doesn't work, does it. It sticks in your craw. Even slight criticism is a stone in your shoe and it stays there for months, years----

SS: Self-indulgent!!!! Me??? Self-indulgent??? I give and I give and I give and yet he calls me "self-indulgent"?? I can't believe it. How can this happen to me? My life is ruined. (SHE SOBS)

GK: The way to deal with bad reviews is simple. Homicide. In your very next work of fiction, make sure you bring the critic in ----- say, at the beginning of Chapter 2.

SS: Mr. Ferris stood in the doorway, clearly uncertain why Sierra had invited him. He thought he was coming to a party but there was no party, just him and her.

FN: Sierra,

SS: He said in an odd, uneasy voice.

FN: I'm glad you didn't hold it against me, what I said about you.

SS: Oh? What was that? She said innocently.

FN: Oh, you know. I called you "talentless." I was wrong. Utterly wrong.

SS: Speaking of holding something against you, Ferris, do you know what this is?

FN: It's a pistol, Sierra,

SS: He said. His face was pale and beads of perspiration were slowly trickling down his upper lip. "It's a pistol with a silencer," she said.

FN: I never imagined you with a gun,

SS: Of course you didn't. You imagined me as an English major, Ferris. A wimp. A pushover. Well, guess again.

GK: That's how to settle a score. Fiction. It's better than real life, nine times out of ten. That's why we write it. A message from the Professional Organization of English Majors.

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