Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Father's Daughter

I am a bit emotional about the Maggies and the whole editor/agent appointments and how cool everything is for me.

Why?

Well it's an incredible high, no doubt. But for me it is a revisit of past haunts and memories. The emotional highs are punctuated with memories that bring tears.

Tears. Or tears that rip my soul? Apart? Not. But the truth is I don't have the perfect life background. In fact, I tried to write a nice mommy in my second and third books and I got a "flat heroine."

Hey, it was fiction. I had a fantasy. But can I write a girl from a nice background with uber supportive parents? No. May I? No!!! I may not.

The good news is once I heard from my critique partner "what a mean mother" and all along I thought "she was rather nice." I knew. I knew I could not write that fantasy.

Write what you know? Yes. And I do write stories with a whole lot of sass with a pinch of sad.

But I am not capable of writing a girl from a "normal" home. Didn't have that....

So why the father's daughter? Because my dad was an intellectual. He introduced me to John Steinbeck, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and more. He introduced me to great Canadian and British writers like Graham Greene and Robertson Davies. He taught me to read history and appreciate the stories. He was interested in those things and I, in my quest for his approval and the love of a parent, read and absorbed the books he recommended.

But there was another entity: my mother. Her jealousy, her mental weirdness, her inability to celebrate me and nurture me led me down a path that didn't reflect my father's influence. I spent much of my early life scrapping for recognition and scrambling for sustenance.

I was on my own at 16. Long story and the details don't matter. But it was easier than living with her and absorbing her negative poison. But in order to feed myself, I also quit high school so I could work full time. It wasn't long before I escaped the horrid northern Canadian mining town I'd lived in for nine nasty years.

I got my GED on my own (well I did have a PhD student in Physics help me with the math part) . I got my college education thanks to my husband paying the bill. I graduated Summa cum Laude at the top of my class, but I'd already parked my dreams of becoming a writer or a foreign journalist eons years earlier.

Fast forward.

I got lucky and God intervened (for me this is a truism). I worked, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, I became a SAHM, and I built my life. It was a good, happy time.

But I still wanted to know my dad and have him back in my life. So as an adult, I accepted my mother and her poison and welcomed them into my life. I wanted my history, my good parts of my past restored to me and I yearned for my Darling Daughter to know him, to have my husband know him and to extend the conversation my father and I started when I was a child.

Then daddy got sick. And a month before he died in 2002 he said to me, regret in his eyes, "I'm sorry but it is too late for you to be a writer."

And he meant it kindly. He said it cause he needed absolution and needed closure before he passed away. I gave it to him. I loved him--and at the time I agreed. Heck, life was good and I was glad to be where I was. My life was (and is) GREAT! And I told him I was okay. And I meant it.

But now, here I am 5 years later with 4 books under my belt, two requests, a Maggie finalist, and I have hope to one day be published. But this is the greater victory, I AM A WRITER. It is not too late.

And that is when my tears flow, because even though in my heart I believe he knows I am a writer, I really wish I could I share these amazing moments with him.

I did it! Me! A high school dropout on her own at 16 years of age grew up to become what I always wanted to be. A writer. Nothing can take that accomplishment from me.

2 comments:

Kasaka said...

Hugs! I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. We are all so proud of you, but your dad would be the proudest.

Christine said...

Thanks! You know so much of the story... and I do hope you follow your heart and start your quest as well... I am so glad you are pursuing your dreams!