Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

Authority Figure Blues

When someone considered an authority figure in your chosen industry keeps telling you that you can’t write, or writes across your manuscripts “This is a piece of shit” on a routine basis, it starts to make you wonder if he might be right.

That was the beginning.

I showed Hank/Jean a short story I was working on at the time, entitled “A string of Werewolves Teeth.” He wrote across it “This is a piece of shit.” When I asked why it was a piece of shit, the reply was “You know why.”

Well, I did not know why.

Over the years that followed, it became harder and harder to write fiction. Eventually, he punished me if he caught me writing. When we got our first computer, he found a piece of writing I had done and left me a message at the start of the piece informing me that I was a very bad mother for writing when I should have been scrubbing the door facings and ironing his shirts.

He burned the trilogy I had sold to Donning/Starblaze on the grounds that I needed to be punished and it was not very well written anyways. Yet he was the editor who bought it. When I asked him why he bought it if it was so badly written, he told me that he had not read far enough into to see what a poor writer I was.

Hank destroyed three other novels I had written. One of them was a werewolf novel called “Altars of Lycaon.” The second one destroyed was a horror novel about the bear-man based on a tale my grandfather used to tell, swearing that it really happened to him as a kid. The third was a vampire novel. He destroyed all but three of my copies of my novella, The Ruined Tower. Those three I managed to to rescue while the rest burned.

For years I watched him heap praise on various authors, including Margaret “Marnie” Davis; while I hungered for the praise and approval he refused to give me.

In 1993 Hank, now calling himself Jean, got a contract with Longmeadow to put out a vampire anthology called I, Vampire: Interviews with the Undead. And what does he say, “Write me a story for the anthology. You are such a good writer.”


At first I wanted to spit in his face. But that would have meant a fist fight. I had decided not to keep fighting him after Sovay started to think it was funny whenever he hit me and I knocked him down for it. Hearing your nine year old chortle “Hit him again, Mom. Hit him again” becomes rather disquieting fast.

I wrote the story “Visiting the Neighbors” for his anthology after he promised to let me keep the money. I kept the money, but he shorted me on my grocery money afterward.

A year ago, he asked me if he could purchase those six novels. When I reminded him of what he had done to them, he seemed genuinely surprised.

When I reminded him about the other things he did to prevent me from writing, he had a hard time believing it.

Maybe the actions were so insignificant to him that he can’t remember them.

However, Sovay was there for part of them and she remembers the same thing I do.

The interesting thing is that when he made that two hour apology that I have mentioned in a previous entry, he knew all the things he had done.


3 comments on “Authority Figure Blues

  1. khazar
    August 8, 2008

    Let’s see–I met her in 1990; put the worst writing of my life into that anthology; and got dumped right after that when she said she was leaving the business. From then until 2002 I didn’t write because she had completely wiped me out emotionally. I started back with fanfic & am now here.

    And I was just a client. How did you survive–no, you had to save Sovay. She probably doesn’t realize the full extent of how much she means to you.

    Also, when you punched Jean, I assume you avoided her mouth as you probably didn’t want the shots needed.

  2. daughter
    August 8, 2008

    possibly not, but I have a good idea. Me and mom have had a very close connection.

  3. cussedness
    August 9, 2008

    I’m glad that you have come back from the damage that Jean did, Khazar.

    I love you, Sovay.

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2008 by in Janrae Frank, legion of nitwits, memoir, questionable business practices and tagged .

Janrae Frank

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