First of all, let me make this clear: I love my mother. She raised me well, pushed me in my education, and supported me through those dark, teenage years despite the nasty things I may have said to her at the time. I would not be the man I am today if not for my mother. But on this one thing, on my writing, we’ve never quite seen eye to eye.
For a long time, I just assumed her tastes didn’t match mine. I watched Star Trek and Babylon 5. She watched operas on PBS. I read Dune. She read The Da Vinci Code. I played video games like Star Fox and Final Fantasy. She played Solitaire. Why should I expect her to show any interest in science fiction stories, even the ones I wrote?
I particularly remember one incident, while she drove me home from a friend’s house, when she told me I was too young to know anything about the real world, and it showed in my writing. Of course this was true. I was fifteen. Still, it stung to hear her say it. But I kept showing her my stories anyway, well into adulthood, despite all her negative comments.
She sometimes said she was only giving me her honest opinion, that she didn’t think I needed a sugar coated version of the truth. Unfortunately for me, the truth (according to her) was that my writing sucked. I wrote several short stories and screenplays, all science fiction. She hated them. I wrote a book about robots, a book about time travel, and a book about parallel universes. She hated them too. Eventually I learned to laugh her criticism off. I had to or I wouldn’t be able to keep writing.
Then I wrote a short story called “The Tomorrow News Network” (which I later re-titled “The Medusa Effect”). It introduced Talie Tappler and Mr. Cognis, a pair of time traveling journalists who arrive at newsworthy disasters before they happen. My mom read it. Grudgingly, she admitted she liked it and asked when I’d write the next one.
Let me emphasize this point. She not only said she liked it; she wanted to know when I’d write more. A few weeks later, she started hassling me about when she could see the next “Talie story.” You cannot imagine the shock I felt! I knew “Tomorrow News Network” was a few steps above anything I’d written before, but still… my mom liked it!
For most writers, having your mother’s endorsement is next to meaningless. She’s your mother. She’s supposed to love your writing, no matter how terrible it might be. But for me, being able to say, “My Mom likes my writing,” is a huge accomplishment. And it occurs to me now as I finish this post that my Mom was right all along. She gave me her honest opinion, no matter how much I didn’t want to hear it, and maybe that pushed me to try harder and become a better writer. At the very least, her unprecedented enthusiasm helped keep me going through the ten (soon to be eleven) subsequent Tomorrow News Network stories.
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Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click here to see a full list of participating blogs.