Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kulu, My Crit Partner

During the hot pursuit of getting published, writers can sometimes regard their crit partners as creatures of a different species.

I'm no exception, especially since I share my office with mine. She's a zebra finch named Kulu, a gift from my daughter who, thankfully, did not bless me with a boa constrictor.

Although a boa might put less of a squeeze on my manuscripts. Granted, Kulu often likes my ideas, but she nails me about research and realism in my writing. She also fusses about my grammar and sentence structure. No author should have to take micromanagement from a bird brain.

On her end, Kulu's good at plots, but she hates it when I tell her truthfully that her character arcs are for the birds.

Kulu's comeback: she's much more professional than I am. She e-mails me nasty memos when messy piles in our office start to block the door. But does she ever clean her cage? No-o-o. Every day Kulu comes to work in full orange make-up, wearing a sleek gray power suit, whereas I buy my writing wardrobe at Elastic World. Blast her, she never gains an ounce because she eats like a bird, while I ... never mind.

On pressure writing days when I've got to make deadline and her scratchy, off-key singing gets on my nerves, I consider donating Kulu to the nearest novelist.

But I remind myself of the fact the great author Charles Dickens benefited from the two ravens he kept in his study. He named them both "Grip" and incorporated Grip I into his novel Barnaby Rudge. Apparently the Grips also inspired his friend Edgar Allen Poe to write "The Raven." But some days, perhaps their sessions didn't go so smoothly, either:

Grip I: Wow, Charlie, this plot is pathetic. No originality. For once in your life, lose the poor, mistreated kid angle.
Grip II: What do you expect from somebody who can't even give me a different name?
Charlie: [using office chair] Back off, birds, or I'll kill you off in my novel.
Grip I: If you do, we'll sue for royalities.
Eddie: [wild-eyed, hunching in a corner over his manuscript] Nevermore!
Still, Charlie, Eddie and the Grips posted some great publishing and sales numbers. So I guess Kulu and I should continue the writing relationship. Besides, we've been together nine years.

A human would have given up on me a long time ago.


  1. Hmmm. Maybe I need a Kulu.

    This made me laugh. What is in the water over there in Upland??? Or maybe you just brought it with you...

  2. Michelle WeidenbennerMay 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    I love reading your posts. You are the definition of originality. You crack me up!

  3. Shhhh, Crystal, my new neighbors still think I'm normal. Bwa-ha-ha-ha.

    Glad my screwiness gave you both smiles :-)