Being ill and possessed of a somewhat foul temper today, I’m being reflective and somewhat bitter. Being grumpy about family issues, primarily. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been writing for almost thirty years now, beginning with bad Mario Bros. fanfic at the age of 6 on a purloined typewriter from my dad’s closet and progressing to D&D knockoff fiction before finding something resembling my own style, voice and subject matter. That’s fairly common knowledge. Also fairly common knowledge is that I’m a trifle manic depressive, suffer extensively from “I’m never good enough” logic and a lack of self-esteem.
One of the roots of those, at least as it pertains to my writing, is my parents. I know, everyone’s got an axe to grind in that department, and I typically have little to no sympathy for those who blame all their life’s troubles on “Mommy didn’t love me enough, waaaaaaaah.” But it is something that still hurts, still burns, and I’ve been mulling it over a lot lately, and it’s really chafing me lately.
Mom wasn’t a huge reader; that’s fine. Some people just aren’t built for the wonders contained within the thin pages and carefully crafted spines of books. But, as a mom, with a child who’s trying desperately to create something, you’d think at least a peek would be in order. But no. Her stock response was generally “I hate scary stuff, I can’t handle it.” This response was bandied about regardless of the actual subject matter of whatever snippet I wanted to show her, be it a random story of Mario planning a birthday party, vampire bards attempting to conquer the lands of Milefront, cops investigating a demonically possessed painting, or star-crossed werewolf lovers. I seem to recall even having a Donald Trump marriage drama in my backlog, somewhere. She just wouldn’t even look. That bothered me. But oh well.
Dad, on the other hand… that’s less forgivable. He was an avid reader – when he wasn’t putting on his “Gawrsh, I’m just a good ol’ boy mechanic” routine, at least – devouring nearly anything. John D. MacDonald was his favorite, but there was also King, Koontz, Barker, Little, Grisham, Leonard and god knows what else in his library. His room was 90% bookcases, all of them filled. Most of my childhood excursions into “grown up” books, when not “borrowed” from my sister’s collection, came from his stacks. I learned what I liked and what I didn’t through him – though we never discussed books. We had a… complicated relationship – and his reading choices. There wasn’t a day where he didn’t have some dog-eared paperback sitting on his nightstand, not a week where he hadn’t obtained at least two or three new volumes to devour. He was on the board of directors for our local library for years, and his name is still on the plaque denoting dear friends of the Carson Library. When he wasn’t disassembling cars or contemplating his navel and his MENSA membership, he was reading. He might have even attempted to write himself. I’m not sure; he certainly had enough implements (the typewriter I hijacked was the third or fourth he’d had, plus a pair of word processors before he moved on to PCs.)
But for all of that, he never read a word that I wrote. I tried. He would have none of it. Now, had he at least looked and denounced it as crap, I think I could live with that. But he never looked. And it still burns. This was a man who would grab the trashiest-looking paperback and tear through the thing in three hours, just to say he did it… but he couldn’t be bothered to read one page of his son’s attempts.
Am I a successful writer? I wouldn’t say that. But I can say that I have almost a dozen published works, have a place in a few anthologies and short story collections, and that what reviews I’ve had have been good. But somehow that doesn’t quite satisfy. I suspect I could sell Woken as a movie, get Rebel Wilson to play Ophelia, have her fall madly in love with me and retire a millionaire married to Rebel Wilson and there’s still going to be a sore spot because my parents wouldn’t read what I had written.
And they never will. Both of them died four years ago. So they will never read Woken, will never be shocked at my heretical babblings in Ioudas, will never be able to tell me how silly and stupid Rotten Apple is, or how ridiculous Huevos of the Rancheros is. And for some reason this really, really bothers me.
What about you folks out there? Have someone you desperately wish would pay a shred of attention to your own creative efforts? Ever had a family member, significant other, or friend who wouldn’t touch your output, for whatever reason? Is it silly to be butthurt over it, years after the fact? Any suggestions for dealing with it, so I can quit stressing such a silly, inconsequential thing and instead focus on things that actually matter (like getting off my butt and finishing Ioudas or Lune de Amant)? Let us know in the box below!