No thanks to you

I may never sell my young adult novel, but nonetheless I’ve been thinking about the acknowledgements page, the writer’s equivalent to an Oscar-night acceptance speech. I have a good idea of who I’ll include; my early readers, the women in my critique group, my family, particularly my husband whose generous nature has enabled me to shun a paycheck to pursue my dream. But what I’d really like to write is an anti-acknowledgements page, a no thanks to you page.

I’m not vindictive by nature, truly I’m not. I would, however, like to heal the psychic wounds inflicted by those who innocently or otherwise professed a lack of faith in me along the way (including my sixth grade math teacher). To that end, an anti-acknowledgements page could be cathartic.

When I was twelve, I had a Hebrew school teacher who was probably not much older than nineteen or twenty, though he seemed much older at the time. One day I said that I didn’t believe in God and he replied, “You’re too young to know what you believe.” I was incensed that he could so cavalierly dismiss my admission. Later, sometime early in my freshman year at Brandeis, I was at the pub on campus when a man in his mid-twenties, a graduate student I guessed, pulled up the bar stool next to me. He was trying to pick me up when I recognized him as that Hebrew school teacher. I seized the moment. “I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on earth,” I said. “And I still don’t believe in God.” Talk about cathartic.

Think about all the little indignities you’ve suffered in your life. Given the opportunity, wouldn’t you love to, just once, settle an old score? In twelve-step programs you are expected to make amends to people you’ve hurt. How about a one-step program where you track down the people who have hurt you and demand an apology?

There’s a great line in The Wizard of Oz when Hickory, the farmhand says, “Someday, they’re going to erect a statue to me,” and Auntie Em snaps back, “Don’t start posing for it now.” She’d probably tell me to forget about writing an acknowledgements page until I need one. Of course, she’d also probably tell me that I was being foolish and selfish, and to get over myself, that there was real work to be done. And she’d be right, but as we all know, that doesn’t mean that a girl can’t dream…

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6 responses to “No thanks to you

  1. A while ago when I showed an early version of my research manual for high school students to a friend/professional writer, her only comment was “Correct the spelling of “Acknowledgements.” So I did, and I guess I’d advise others to do so as well. Preferred American spelling seems to be “acknowledgments.” After several rebuffs, I gave up trying to get together with said writer/friend.
    Probably best to focus on those who provide help in various ways and forget about the dullards who throw up roadblocks. Easier said than done, however.

    • I struggled with how to spell acknowledgements. I had it with the “extra” e in Word, which didn’t flag it as wrong, but when I dropped it into WordPress it was flagged. I looked it up in my old Merriam Webster dictionary and that indicated that either one was okay. Just another argument for forgetting about it altogether.

  2. Thanks for bringing some smiles to my face with this one!

  3. The theater director I work with is never negative, I think because there’s no point. He works with people from where they are to develop their work and themselves as they best can. The goal is…just the development of the work I guess. And this is not to say that he is not “tough” on making the work shine and grow and become all that it can be. It’s testament to how much you can help someone improve a work of art without ever having to be nasty, petty, or jealous. In fact, I think that’s where the nastiness comes from. David Ford is a genius director, and a humbler, kinder genius I have never met.

  4. Loved it Judy.

  5. That is cathartic! I guess you can leave that out of your anti-acknowledgements.

    I always think about thanking family members, critique partners, and helpful bloggers. But your way is more bitter… and fun!

    Have a great weekend!

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