Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Book of Jokes by Katie Carleton, Nerdfighter Prodigy

If you ask Katie what she likes best about school, she'll say PE, recess, lunch, and "free draw" time in class.  Due to budget cuts, each class has just one session a week with the actual art teacher, but Katie's first grade teacher sets aside time each day for some unstructured creativity.

Yesterday Katie brought home not just a single drawing, but a book.

"A book?  Were you assigned to create a book?" I asked, making sure my kid really is as awesome as I think she is.  If it were an assignment, that's cool, but if not, that's awesome.  Like, she's-ready-to-join-Nerdfighteria and don't-forget-to-be-awesome, awesome.

"No, I made it during free draw," she said.

Yes!  My child is a nerdfighter prodigy!

"What made you decide to make a book?" I asked, beaming, expecting her to wax six-year-old-philosophic on me about how wonderful it is to draw out your thoughts and feelings and explore whatever's in your imagination.

Instead, she said, "Because McKayla and I want to sell them and make money."
McKayla is a girl she's recently become chummy with at school.  Last week McKayla wrote her phone number down and gave it to Katie.  I asked if she was supposed to call her and Katie said no, it was for when they were playing "pretend smartphone" at recess.

This kid is corrupting my innocent artist child with consumerist ways!

"Mom," Katie pointed to the spot on the book where she had written $4 dollers,"  Does this mean it's published?"

"Oh don't I wish it were that easy, Punk!" I said, laughing.  She's heard the word "published" from me.  Usually with the prefix "un" in front of it.

My proud-mama-of-an-artist bubble burst, knowing my kid wants to write books for profit and not for pure artistic expression.  I wanna break it to her, though:  If she's in it for the money she oughta rethink her plans.  I cut back my hours at work a year-and-a-half ago so I could spend more time writing.  Which I have.  And it's wonderful.  I love it.  But my original goal was to sell my manuscript to a publisher and start supporting our family with the money I'd make as a novelist.  When I couldn't find an agent and I realized I'm not savvy enough to market my own work, I chucked my manuscript into the desk drawer and started blogging.

It's been great for my mental health, for my need of pure artistic expression, but it's been shitty for padding my bank account.  As of this moment, I've made $45.16 in ad revenue off my blog.  Since July 2011.  In another couple of years I might be able to afford to buy Katie an American Girl doll with the proceeds.

At least the kid isn't a spendthrift like me.  When I asked Katie what she plans to do with the money she earns selling her books, she said, "I'm saving my money for college."

I should have done that.  I shouldn't knock her book selling idea.  Maybe if I had written books as a kid and sold them for four dollars a pop, I could have saved my money for college.  Then maybe I'd have a degree and know what the hell I need to do to get published instead of dropping out after becoming exhausted trying to support myself with a full time job while finishing my Creative Writing degree.

The kid's full of good ideas.  I should take her advice more often.

On the way home from the store, Katie announced this to Will and me: "When I grow up, I don't care how much money I make.  I don't care if I'm rich or poor.  I just want to have a house and a family and a job and be happy."

What a reasonable little artist she is.  I need to quit worrying about how little money I'm making off my blog and simply enjoy it and life with my wonderful family.  The family that gives me such good material to write about.

And with that, I present to you...

The Book of Jokes
by Katie Carleton
translated by Becky Carleton

($4 dollars) The Book of Jokes by Katie Carleton

For My Family Mom and Dad
What's a butterfly?  A butt-fly.

What do you call a horn?  A cow horn.

What's a hog?  A hedgehog.

The End