Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Every Skipping Childhood blog post that you read will represent one of the phrases that you see in the left-hand column. That phrase is displayed at the beginning of the post on the right-hand side, that is why in this post, you see the word “TRUTH”. With that being said, I’d like to share a little more of my truth concerning my new book and companion to this blog - “SkippingChildhood: A Novel”. In this dark and gritty urban drama I have already injected a great deal of my own “truth”. In a moment, I’ll share a little bit of how I feel about having done that with the content of the book.
First there is one quick point worth mentioning before I begin a small rant about truth, then try to provide some needed encouragement to other writers. The quick point is just a notification that this blog is not meant to try and give counseling to anyone in any way, shape or form. However that doesn’t meant that some readers won’t find the posts to be therapeutic. This is especially so for those who can relate to being brought up in the foster care system or in highly dysfunctional families. Notice I say highly dysfunctional, because in truth, aren’t ALL families at least a little dysfunctional?
If anyone is clueless about what highly dysfunctional is, consider Deandra Baxter (primary character in “Skipping Childhood”). She’s twelve at the pivotal part of the book and her life and things go from bad to worse. She spends a big part of her life growing up around dark and nefarious people and circumstances. Her drug addicted mother’s questionable friends include other drunks, addicts, criminals and a sexual predator. So for purposes of this conversation, these are the types of things that fall into the highly dysfunctional category. If you can relate to any of this (or God forbid – worse than this), then yes; at some point, this blog will end up being therapeutic for you. I know because talking, sharing and reading about experiences similar to mine has helped me. By now some of you must be thinking: “Wow! I thought my family was bad!”
Now for the TRUTH and then a little encouragement.
The truth I’ve been needing to talk about when it comes to my writing (and not just the Skipping Childhood project); any of my writing, is how my family responds. Or should I say, how my family DOESN’T respond. I’ve been a freelance writer for a lot of years, probably going on 20, although my level of professionalism to the craft took half of those years to develop. The point is, I’ve been writing and sharing my work in various public forums, mostly online.
In all that time, my family (and I’m talking immediate family, not distant relatives) has never bothered to check out what I write. Granted, for a long time I was mostly writing articles and didn’t get into writing my own ebooks until about 2011. But so what? When I felt enthusiastic about a project or particular article, no one cared to hear it. That really bummed me out. Then later, when I started writing small ebooks, here again I told myself that it was only researched, non-fiction stuff. They certainly weren’t about to read any of that; that was too much like school or work. Then, I wrote my first novel Experimenting with Murder (which is really not that bad, though I know now where and how I went wrong).
I personally believe that book has a good story although maybe tackling a topic like mermaids and mad scientists wasn’t a good idea for a first book. All the experts say “write what you know,” and there’s only so much I knew about mermaids – me or anyone else. Here again, the point is, no one in my family bothered to read the book or offer any feedback, useful or otherwise. In my immediate family and HOUSEHOLD, there are 3, count ‘em, 3 AVID readers. You would think that at least one of them would have bothered to crack open the book, but no one did.
In case you’re wondering did I ask them to read it, of course I did. I was a bit timid about it, because I didn’t understand why I should have to ask them, but I did nonetheless. I didn’t push them and when they didn’t bother, I never said anything; I just kept in all in. One reason why this whole thing was so particularly upsetting with one family member is because she ALWAYS tries to talk to me about some other book she’s reading or listening to! I don’t know why instead of just saying how I feel, all I ever do is steer the conversation to something else. I’m hurt but I feel like she knows what the problem is, but….
That’s a truth that I’ve been wanting to get off my chest and now that I’ve shared it here, I think I feel better about it. The reason I decided to share this now is because of what happened to me after I finished writing “Skipping Childhood.” Days later after the book had been submitted to Amazon and the print version set up at Createspace, I was out taking a walk. Now my walks have a tendency to make me feel great anyway, plus I was glad the book was done and I could take a breath, so I felt really good. But then I noticed something; I felt more than good. I felt freer or lighter or something. I couldn’t explain it, even to myself, but I realized it had to do with some of the stuff that I’d written in the book. Writing it had helped to lighten my load and remove baggage I had no idea I was even carrying.
That’s why I decided to unburden myself with the hurt I still feel (deeply) that no one I love cares enough to support me in such a small way.
Now for the ENCOURAGEMENT to other writers.
Whether you’re a new or existing writer, whether you’re brave enough to write your own truth, whether you’re writing someone else’s truth, whether you write about mermaids, or whether you write non-fiction; YOU can succeed and reach your goals! You can do it, and you can even manage to pull it off without the support of those who care (or say they care). Don’t stop loving them, but don’t keep wasting energy hoping that they will see just how creative and talented you are. Even the good book says that a prophet is not well-received in his own town (or something to that affect). It’s too bad that the people closest to us are sometimes the last to give us applause, but never let that stop you. Just take a moment and applaud yourself