Being Moody

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!

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26 responses to “Being Moody

  1. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I am sure MANY OF US can share your thoughts on this post. I am sorry to hear you can never “shine” in front of those that obviously mattered to you. At some point though you will have to accept your own successes and accomplishments as “good enough” for you. Nice post and hopefully you don’t mind me rebooting it. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please comment on their post.

  2. It’s so sad when parents don’t give a child the encouragement he or she needs. Maybe they were simply afraid to learn that you were a good writer and feared you would look down on them? Or maybe they were afraid that if they encouraged you, you would go off on your own and abandon them? I don’t know your back story, this being the first post of yours I’ve read. I’m always inclined to give a parent the benefit of the doubt and hope whatever that parent has done was done for love (albeit maybe misguided), and was not just neglect. But if you’ve been writing for 30 years, I’m sure before they died your parents were well aware of your abilities, even if they, for whatever reason, refused to acknowledge them. I’d be interested in knowing if they bragged about you to any of their friends or colleagues, when you were safely out of hearing distance.

  3. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    It is painful when you cannot share your joy of creation with people that matter to you. Perhaps your father was jealous of your joy in writing or he may have had the same situation. I wish I had my Dad around still he was always super supportive of my creative side. Not so much of further education with limited funds and in and era where most women went to college to get husbands it just wasn’t encouraged. I wish I had done that on my own. It is a regret that I have but it is what it is. Yes it is unfortunate but I honestly think that they would be very proud of your accomplishments. Enjoy them don’t let the past poison that joy.

    • Trying to avoid and cleanse such poisons is what I spend much of my time doing… But sometimes it’s hard going, and bleeds out. But one keeps at it! And hello, and thanks for the reblog!

      • You are welcome. It is hard when something hurts so deeply but if you couldn’t feel like that you probably couldn’t write with conviction either. Nice to meet you and you are very welcome. A lot of writers feel as you do and I think secretly we all feel unworthy but do it any way.

      • I tend to suspect that very few creative people actually think much of their own work, regardless of who else raves about it; probably relating to the idea that familiarity breeds contempt (along with nagging self-esteem issues and the self-doubt that seems to prove strongest in creative and intellectual individuals.) yet we keep banging away, because that’s what we were made to do.

  4. Reblogged this on Key to My Heart Blog and commented:
    I really feel identified with this. My mother was one of the first and few people that read some of my work and encouraged me writing. Others refused to read me including my children because to their eyes my work is sad, cheesy, self centered and borderline pathetic, in other words, a self pity fest. But if I wrote anything else and more cheerful thing or dedicate myself to paint I would do a lot better. Some of these things have being said to me by few family members and friends, others simply laugh, and few believe that I waste my time writing, have to much of an odd imagination, they rather read my old sensual poems and critics of that sort. But I know every writer goes to hell and come back for one reason or the other and that is what make us good writers….

  5. I feel your pain, and your great need to be loved and accepted by those who were supposed to protect and nurture you. That they didn’t is something that can’t be changed. If I were you, I would recognize that they obviously had no clue about literature or the writing process, and didn’t have the ability to at least make an attempt foster either in their child. Self-absorbed parents are the bane of artistic children, and it’s not your fault. Perhaps you were ahead of them on the time/space continuum, and someday, when they catch up, you’ll have already moved beyond the hurt. For me, it will take at least that long to read a publication and say, “Hey, you wrote that…and it’s good.” Just so you know, I think your writing is wonderful.

  6. Third attempt to comment ;-): Maybe they were just scared of finding out how good you actually are. Parents can be weird… and all we can do is make it better with out kids… As much as I love my mom, I also really don’t like her. I don’t like her for always making me feel I am not good enough or that what I do is not good enough or that what I do is generally a mistake. But hey, I can not change her. I can not change the way she wants to see things. All I can do is change the way I see it and make it better with my kids. And that is for sure something I will do. You can change the way you see a reaction of your parents. And in this case: They probably just weren’t ready to really see what a great writer you are…

    • One never knows. Most days, I just try to plug along and not let it worry me. Or look on the bright side of “hey, at least they never said it was bad!”

      Thank you for your kind words, and sorry if the site was fighting your attempt to comment… I think it’s possessed by evil space gnomes, some days.

  7. my mom has been supportive about most things I do..but yes I do empathize with you..sometimes we really wish that person would read and they don’t seem to care enough. and I haven’t found a good enough reason or argument to not feel at least a little bit hurt about it…though I try to mostly ignore it and have success when I get support from here, my wordpress friends who bother to read and comment on my scribblings..hope you find it enough too sometime..take care..stay blessed 🙂

    • That particular feeling is well known to me… in writing and in other arenas. But thankfully there are others who’ve been there – sometimes at just the right time – to alleviate that sensation.

    • I’m one of those crazy people that refuses to reject any input, regardless of the positive or negative nature of it. Every bit of it is useful in some way, at some point. The problem is that I’m also a trifle broody, and a combination of depression, near-eidetic memory and the general malaise that comes from being stick and homebound for long periods tends to produce a mental loop where you keep gnawing at it, like a dog who licks his paw raw long after the thorn got pulled.

  8. I’ll start out with my gripe here – Imagine the most violent cartoon that you can muster – talking intestines in the teeth with wild anger emblazoned in the eyes… You may be exposing poor Rebel to such an end by just washing all other potential suitors away. I’ll just put that out there…

    That being said, not feeling worthy of your family’s appreciation of your talent is devastating. Coming from family that chastised me for my weight and being reminded very frequently that “It’s good you’re smart, because you sure as hell don’t have anything in the looks department.” I dealt with it by overcompensating. Pushed for straight A’s. Didn’t wear makeup (besides stage) until I was about 20. Wore baggy jeans and t-shirts because, well. Not much use in trying, right? I’m an ugly (but SMART!) duckling. But the first time a friend convinced me to let her put makeup on me I could see I had definition. I had eyes that could be emphasized. Another friend purged her closet and gave me her professional and womanly hand me downs. Another shocker – I had a waist! I had legs! Overall, I looked.. Well.. Even now it’s hard to say “beautiful.” Self acceptance is a Bitch to learn. But I’ll admit I’m not a total dog and clean up pretty fairly. Self acceptance is the start. Knowing and appreciating what you’ve done is step one. Sometimes it’s a mountain to get to step one.

    Know you are loved. Know you have loyal readers (even if we aren’t in droves… Yet…) Know that you are 100% worth it.

    • This came up under recent posts… And I just realized it was written two years ago…

      ::blushes:: 😳

      I’ll go ahead and start taping my Pitch Perfect poster back together….

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