Sunday, December 27, 2009
How Writing and My Mother's Nagging Saved Me
My mother was a writer. She actually published a couple of books through a small company. Both her novels Willow Mountain and A Picture of Love were decent books, but not in my taste. My unwillingness to read them, or jump for joy over them when I did, might have been some of the reason my mother resented me a bit. She was far from a terrible person. She was my mother--a good one at that. But, we had several disagreements and squabbles. Particularly in the way of writing. She wanted me to be a writer--she said I had talent. I just wanted to do whatever I wanted to do. Not to mention, I have always been a "Daddy's Girl," and rebelled against much of what my mother did.
Her books barely got any notice. We never get royalty checks anymore. The last check we got was about six months ago--the first time in years, really--and it was a mere $2.50. You cannot buy a mansion on Willow Mountain with that. I am like many bloggers, I am a narcissistic writer at times. My mother was as well. I think it comes with the territory. She wrote a romanticized idea of her life. Whereas, the only type of book I could ever see myself writing would be the one constantly rolling through my mind--my thoughts, uncensored. (A scary idea, I know.) I am just not one for writing romance, or a knock-off Harry Potter. If I were to delve into creative writing, I would have to make time to work on it much longer than the typical lifetime allows and it would have to be of something spectacularly unique and alien to readers of today. I would also have to find a magical bucket full of patience and inspiration to keep it going for very long before it became scrap paper in the back of my credenza.
I will admit, I did write poems and songs for a long time. I still write songs on occasion. I know writing is where I belong, just a different writing than what my mother wanted. However, if I had not tried to write fantasy novels in the past, or written as many songs and poems as I had, I would have never realized exactly where in writing I fit and in writing I belong. And, if it had not been for my stubbornness in proving my mother wrong, I would have never discovered how much I love photography when I tried desperately to deviate away from writing altogether.
When my mother passed, I had a lot of unwanted feelings emerge and not-so-fond memories of my mother re-emerge. I am hardened to admit, but feel for the honest integrity of this post I will confess, I was angry with my mother for a long time after her death. My demeanor and outlook on life was not affected so much, however when I was alone and had time to think of the pain of losing her, sadness would turn to bitterness. This is not a healthy transition. Readers: do not allow this to ever happen, it is not a fun road to travel. In my inward rage, I re-read my mother's books. I did not leave with any different emotions about her writing style or the stories--I felt the exact same about everything, but I realized all the time I had spent rebelling against my mother was wasteful energy.
I am glad I did some of it. I learned new things about myself and about what I like. When I was against writing, I was free. All the opportunities and career choices in the world were open to me. I could be anyone. What a feeling! However, no matter what I did, everything seemed to turn back to writing. At one point in time, I wanted to travel the jungles of Africa as a journalist for animals, writing what I observe. I also had the idea to be a video game designer (which my lack of math and science skills would prohibit now), yet whenever I would create an idea for a video game, I was practically writing a story. It seems the signs have always been pointing to writing. I just never knew to open my eyes to it.
Growing up, I had always been a shy girl. Now, I am less shy and more quiet for my own particular reasons. However, throughout my unbearable shy years, writing was the only way I could express myself. Ironically, I was always too shy to show the most personal of it to anyone, but at least I was capable of coherent nonverbal speech. I could spit my ideas out on paper as my catharsis. (If only paintball-ing my younger brother in the face was an acceptable stress-reliever in my household. Sigh...) It is through the encouragement of English teachers and my participation in school newspapers I found myself loving the structure and style of journalistic writing, and loving the atmosphere of a newsroom. If I had not stayed with writing on the side and acquainted myself with journalism, I would probably be one of the poor saps, not talented enough for professional photography, but still stubborn enough to go to school for it, and trying to make it in my wonderful, one-horse town as a portrait photographer.
To be perfectly honest, I am not sure my mother would ever have been too thrilled with the type of writing I would like to do. For one, I am sure my idea of an uncensored book is something of which she would not have been too proud. This is only one of the reasons why if I ever do finish and publish the book, it shall be under a pen name. For another, my mother was always a creative writer, and always detested reporters and the media, though she lived by Oprah and the news daily--yes, she was a typical housewife.* I am not sure, if she had lived to see my final decision to go into journalism, if she would be as inwardly thrilled as she would have been outwardly supportive. One thing my mother was always accountable for was her support. Which is where I feel I failed as a daughter. But if part of me had not felt, in ways, she was right about my writing ability--though, I would have never admitted it to her--I would not be here. I wonder if I would even be writing at all, if she was still alive?
*Just in case someone reads that line and grimaces, I have no problem with housewives. I think one of the most important things a woman can be is a nurturing mom.
at 2:17 PM