Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Writers …
With apologies to Ed Bruce, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, I’d have to say that writers are the cowboys of the creative arts. For (some) writers, it’s a lonely life – immersed in a world of their own creation – and hard on those who love them. We’d rather write you a book than give you diamonds or gold, but maybe that’s because few writers actually make a living by following their passion. And every night starts a new day … as we often toil long into the wee hours of the morning, in our faded blue jeans.
Yet, have you ever asked a cowboy to give up his lifestyle? The handful I’ve personally met over my lifetime would say “no.” There’s something about working hard in the wide, open ranges of a ranch that permeates their very being and becomes part of them. They’d no sooner give up that sense of freedom and gratification of a job well done than to give up an arm … or their favorite horse.
Writers can be like that, too. Give up that freedom of creating a world full of intriguing characters, wondering what kind of trouble they’ll get into next? Never. Abandon that sense of fulfillment in completing a story that entertains and touches others, perhaps keeping those readers reading well into those same wee hours the author works crafting his next tale? Not only no, but … well, you know. They’d rather give up that arm, as long as it’s not the one they use to write.
I know firsthand how writing can become a passion that seeps into your soul. I can’t say I always wanted to be a writer, but I always wrote. I wrote technical papers, journal articles, and manuals. I even tried my hand at magazine articles. However, the craft of creative writing was never something I had aspired to. I’m not sure why, but I think it had more to do with not having been exposed to it in school than anything else.
And that’s where my “Mamma” came in. You see, she let me grow up to be a doctor and such. And yet, she kept at me, urging me to write. I guess my seventh grade English teacher first saw that spark of creativity in me and convinced my mother that I could be a great writer. However, I kept rebuffing her suggestions that I write a book. You see, there was med school, military service, getting married and starting a family, starting a civilian career, and all of those “real life” time demands that we all face that limited my view of a horizon that she seemed to see clearly. She eased up on me for a bit, but began to hammer away again when our children went off to college and the nest emptied. After yet one more of her “reminders,” I happened upon a writing contest and decided to give it a go. Placing in the top five was enough to ignite something inside. Seventeen years and multiple novels later, I can honestly call myself an author and not only has that passion for writing soaked in, it now oozes out.
So, Mammas (and Papas) remember that you can and will influence your children’s lives not just in those “formative” years, but well beyond. There will be times when you can see a hidden talent in your child that you know beyond doubt could change his life. As parents, we’re a lot like God in this way. He sees in us the talents He gave us and He gently pushes us to utilize those gifts. It seems that most of the time, though, that His timing does not correlate to our timing, and sometimes He has to give us a swift kick to get us back on course. So, if your child doesn’t see it right away, maybe the timing isn’t right. Stick with it, just as God perseveres with us. Oh, and it’s okay to let your babies grow up to be writers.