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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Validation of the Writer

Went to dinner with my father and the usual came up. Questions of writing and teaching and the related and of course the conversation went to a sort of end run with my father pronouncing me a great teacher but of course conveniently forgetting I had written five novels with the fourth do out in the spring and the fifth due out in the fall. I had to remind him that I had been well paid for some of those books with auctions and dinners with agents and publishers in New York and movie rights sold and awards and the books were with the largest publisher in the world and I had been in the New York Times, Chicago Tribunes, USA Today, LA Times, NBC, CBS, People magazine. I had to remind him I did an NPR interview with Robert Siegel and my books had been chosen as a Book of the Month selection and garnered starred reviews in PW with  foreign rights sold. And I had even hit the Best Seller list for a time. But all of this of course fell on deaf ears.

And this is because for most people in America and maybe the world you have not made it and become that other person until you have made it in the spectacular sense of getting a million dollars for your book and seeing it on the big screen. And even then I am not sure he would think I had become the novelist that I saw myself as. Something to do with not being able to really understand people whom we know might have actually done something different. This is a hard concept and probably harder for parents.

But lets just say validation can be bought. Clearly it has to be in the pages of a newspaper that someone has just received untold millions for their book for this is our bar now. The Harry Potter author is a billionaire and that is a writer! You think I jest but in actuality we have come to this. Unless someone can prove in some spectacular way they have crossed the line into the uber fame and fortune then we are now suspect and probably a fraud. For we all know that most people can not do anything that rises above the normal give and take of a normal nine to five life. The middle class is hopelessly dogmatic that way. Thou shall not try anything beyond the pale.

And so my father and I hashed it out and he apologized for not seeing me as the writer. And I know he will never see me as the writer no matter how many books I publish. True, if I can obtain bragging rights to the multi million dollar advance this might tilt him in my favor and then he can equate literary endeavour with that old lottery saw: I knew the boy could do it! But until then I will be what ever thing I am doing at the time that is more recognizable. I have worked a lot of jobs so it would go something like this.

There is my son the baker, waiter, construction worker, landlord, real estate agent, broker, professor, janitor, security guard, teacher, workshop leader, telemarketer, bouncer, DJ, busboy, teachers assistant, bartender. Oh....and he writes some too.

Books by William Hazelgrove