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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Our Parents Never Really Accept Who We Are

I was smoking a Christmas cigar with my dad and he said what he always has said. Don't spend all day writing. Make some money. He is referring to my teaching or some of the other things I do supplement my writing. It doesn't matter to him that I have published five novels. It doesn't matter that I have had Book of the Month Club Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, Starred Reviews in Publishers Weekly, Hit the National Bestseller List, Published by the Largest Publishers in the World, Interviewed by NPR All Things Considered, Spread in People Magazine, New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, Chicago Tribunes, Chicago Sun Times,  Paperback Auctions, Six figure advances, Three Book Deals, Movie deals, Foreign Rights Sales, ALA Editors Choice Awards, Two books coming out Next Year.
Nope. None of it matters. To him I just don't have a real job.

And it is something parents just cant help. They see you a certain way. They are incapable of understanding that we might not be the person they think you should be. Add a career in the arts to the mix and you have a perfect storm of parent inability to really see who they spawned. My dad can understand the money but after that it is suspect. He sees me in the newspaper and asks how I did that like it was some sort of slight of hand. He sees my book in the store and it is almost incidental but it is never connected to a job.

And maybe that is very American. We really don't accept anyone who doesn't have a traditional job. Certainly not writers. They are suspect by nature and don't really compute in parental consideration of a vivable career. Add to that novelist and again you might as well be drinking in a bar and  sleeping in. It just doesn't make sense that your child should do something as nebulous as write a book.

And so really all we are left with is that parents can not really accept us as we are. To them we will always be who we didn't become.


Books by William Hazelgrove