During math yesterday, Anne-with-an-e was enjoying peppermint tea in the Tess cup. The Tess cup is one of my favorite little coffee cups, a gift from a friend to Atticus long ago: it's a cream colored affair with black script, showing a reproduction of Hardy's first few lines from a first draft of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, complete with cross-outs, margin notes and the like.
As we were doing the math (or, more accurately, as I was expecting Anne to continue the math) she got a bit distracted.
"Doesn't Daddy teach Tess?" she asked.
"Yes, he does. Usually." (I didn't add that my sweet, thoughtful husband has sometimes abandoned the teaching of this novel when there's a pregnant teen in his class, out of sensitivity to her and the paths down which the discussion might wander.)
"And why are so many things crossed out?" Anne asked.
"Well, it's a rough draft," I replied, equally distracted and now clearly as ready as Anne to direct my attention to Thomas Hardy and the writing process. "You know how rough drafts are. They're ... um, rough. You write it, you cross it out, you start again."
"I don't have to cross that many things out of my rough drafts," touted Anne, firm in her conviction that her writing must be superior to Hardy's. "I didn't cross out much of anything in my last story."
I, too, was now thoroughly distracted and thoroughly immersed in the conversation. Isn't this so much more interesting than numbers on a page?
"Well, your story is flowing, true, but you might have some crossing out to do when you go back and reread it. And then, you know Tess is a novel ... it'd take quite a few more drafts to get a novel down."
She nodded, and sipped while I got up and poured myself another cup of coffee and suddenly remembered that we'd come to the kitchen table with a purpose other than discussing writing and literature. "Hey, aren't we supposed to be doing this division stuff?"
"Oh, yeah," said Anne, shaking herself. "But I really do like this cup."
Yeah, Sweetie. So do I.