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My mother and grandmother are both avid readers. They are where I got my fascination and love for books, but they also knew me my first day on this earth, changed my diapers, and appreciated all my childhood innocence. Well, since I’m not a child any longer and do not write for children, I now have this, perhaps irrational, fear that they will read my stories and have their image of me rattled, that they’ll gasp in shock, shake their heads in grave concern, and secretly concoct ways for me not to learn of their horror and disapproval so as not to hurt my feelings. You see, I may be my own worst critic, but the opinions of my close family are almost as impactful as that of my own mind.
On some level, if I put something in a book that I was warned against at any point in my childhood, I feel a twinge of guilt. Not that I strew large amounts of obscenities across the page; engage in unnecessary, gratuitous, or extraordinarily kinky sex scenes; or sing praises to the worst humanity can do to itself. But, occasionally, a character will curse; my heroes and heroines don’t just kiss chastely or sleep in separate beds like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, and I do not shy away from letting my readers know some of the evil my villains commit. Growing up, I hated to disappoint my parents and, while we might not have always agreed, I tried hard to live up to their expectations and not disappoint them. As a result, one of the things I’ve had to learn as an author is how to attempt to not allow any of this mindset and history to keep me from writing the stories inside me. I’ve had to learn and am still learning to trust the person I am and that the stories I come up with are worth telling, even if I cringe at the prospect of my family reading them.
Yes, I know, it probably shouldn’t concern me as much as it does. I probably should toughen up my skin and all that, but I’m not there yet. At least, I finally got up the courage to confess to my mother my fear of her reading anything I wrote. She was understanding and all the more intrigued about my book. It wasn’t exactly the reaction I was expecting.
So I’ve decided to go ahead and let my mother and grandmother read the book that this editor is currently looking at. I sent them the manuscript yesterday afternoon. Odds are their images of me won’t be as scarred afterwards as I fear, and I know that, at some point, they’d read it anyway. Even if they had to wait until they bought the book, they’ll read it, and honestly, that interest in what I’m doing and that expression of love I’m appreciative for and blessed by.
Am I still utterly paranoid about their reaction? Of course. But I’ve always been a pull the Band-Aid-off-fast type of girl. At least this way, I can move past this mental hurdle. Either my mother and grandmother will enjoy what I wrote and not think any the worse of me, in which case I’ll feel much more confident about any future books falling into their hands, or they’ll not like it, in which case I can come to terms with that fact and move on.
How about you? Did you ever worry over how your family would react to your work, interests, or hobbies? Are you past that sort of thing? Do you still? What did/do you do about it? How did they react?