“I never read fiction,” my mother used to say, as a point of pride. When I was a kid, she would glance at my library books and say, “Why are you reading that? You already read it!”
After I won second place in Writers of the Future, my first big milestone, I signed one of my complimentary copies to my parents, thanking them for their (ahem) support. “Do you want it back?” said my mother, a few weeks later. “We already read it!”
“No, thanks,” I said annoyed. My then-boyfriend, now-husband, Matt, always encouraged me to write. My parents didn’t care. You know how writers joke, “I only sold two copies, and one of them was to my mom”? I’m like, You’re lucky your mom reads. Good on ya.
|My parents & my newborn son: better than a book!|
My mother did occasionally come to my book readings and/or buy a copy. She lives in Ottawa (about 1.5 hours’ drive away from me), or she’d come more often. I suspected that she shoved the books in a corner, or gave them away, but was grateful for her presence. As you may know, it’s a challenge to get people out.
But a few years ago, after while taking the bus, she got so bored that she started reading one of my anthologies, Indian Country Noir. “It was good!” she said, sounding astonished.
I think she also read The Dragon and the Stars, which won the Aurora Award in 2011, but I didn’t hear anything for four years.
Not until Tuesday, when she attended the ChiZine Reading Series and marched right up to the book table. “I have to support my daughter,” she said, and bought WOLF ICE and NOTORIOUS D.O.C.Would I have given the books to my mother? Of course. But I also think she really wants to support me. As in sustain me, help lift me up. And since I’ve come to realize that success depends not just on financial vagaries, but psychological toughness, I accepted. I’m not to proud to accept charity from my mom (or Patreon from my fans).
Then on Friday, I spotted WOLF ICE not only splayed open on her bed, but halfway finished.
“It’s so good. I can’t put it down,” she told me and Matt. “It’s actually bad, because I wanted to do the gardening on Thursday, and I never got out, and on Friday, it rained, so I didn’t get anything done. How much is TERMINALLY ILL? The next time I come, I’ll buy that one.”
Wow. A compliment from my mom. I’ll take that over gardening any day.
How about you? How does your family react to your writing and your passions? Did they encourage you, or tell you to knuckle down and study the times table instead? How has that changed over time? And how do you support your children, if you have any?
I have to admit that when my son announced he wanted to be a police officer, I gulped.