I remember when I was a kid, and I enjoyed writing stories and “making books”. It was a hobby of mine. I know, I had weird hobbies, but then again, it was before I even touched a computer, let alone an Atari 2600 (Wow! Dating myself there!). These books were in comics form, and I wrote them mainly for my own enjoyment, but I shared them with friends and family. These stories were simplistic, but they had identifiable characters with some sense of development, as well as cohesive story lines that made sense, so the basic bones of writing were there. I remember sharing them with my mother, who, even at that early age, told me that one day I’d be an author. I think I wanted to be a cowboy or a fighter pilot then, I’m not sure; writing for a living was pretty far out for me then.
Flash forward a few years, through high school and into college. I still wrote stories, sometimes because I had to for a class assignment, but I put the same effort and love into those mandated projects as I did into anything I did just for fun. Friends, family, and even a teacher or two thought I had potential. But mom was my biggest booster. She told me that I could do anything I wanted, but that writing was my art and my gift. At the time, other things were in my mind — other career ideas, other life goals, and, oh yeah, girls, too — so I put the writing bug on the back burner.
And on the back burner it stayed. Occasionally, I’d try to pursue a project, only to make it a few pages, maybe even a few chapters, before giving up in frustration and tossing the thing into the nearest trash bin. I’ll never write a book, I told myself. I can’t. I don’t have what it take to be an author.
And yet, there my mother was, encouraging me all along, telling me that I did have what it takes, that the talent and the skill were there for me — but no matter what path I pursued, she would still be proud of me.
But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel I was worth being proud of, and I sure didn’t feel I had anything remotely resembling talent. And no matter what other people told me, the lies I told to myself had more authority. So I listened to the lies and ignored what others told me. And I shelved the writing bug. However, I told myself that one day, I might try again. When that would be, I had no idea. And for years, “again” started looking like “never”.
Flash forward to 2014. I had given up on my dreams and had contented myself with mediocrity. But that year came the most devastating news I’d received since my father passed away — my mother had advanced heart disease, and had maybe a year and a half to live. I went through all the stages of grief, as we all do. But I was there for her, as much as I could be.
At that time, it came to me that maybe I needed to start writing again. I don’t know why it came at that time, but it did. And this time, I did not dismiss that voice. I started writing. I had no idea where I was going, and I had no idea what I was going to do with whatever it was that I would have when I finished. Seven or so months later, I had written a novel-length story, about a suburban loser who became a vampire. This story became Suburban Vampire. Mom was so proud, she was practically bursting. And I was proud, and despite the challenges that came afterward, I was glad that I had accomplished something, finally. But I wasn’t content; as I was searching for a publisher for the first novel, I wrote a second. Then I started a third.
Mom wasn’t the first person who read my early manuscript for Suburban Vampire, she was actually the second. But, between doctor’s appointments and hospital visits, she read the manuscript, and told me it was one of the best things she’d ever read. Seriously. One thing you must understand about my mother is that she was a voracious reader, from classics to lightweight mass-market fiction. And I dismissed what she said as “mom being my mom”, being supportive as she always was. But she insisted that it was true, that I was an author, and I had something going on here. She then read the early treatments of the sequel, Suburban Vampire Ragnarok, which she declared as even better than the first. And she kept telling me that these stories were not only enjoyable, but that I had to share them with the world. She kept telling me these things even on her death bed. I was able to share with her the story of my third novel (tentatively titled Suburban Vampire Reckoning), and she thought it was a great story. I told her I’d have to bring the manuscript to the hospital and let her read it. Unfortunately, she died a few days later.
Here I am, just a few years later, and I’ve written six novel length projects. I am trying to do what my mother told me, which is to share these stories with the world. I haven’t made much progress yet, but mom believed I could — and more than that, believed I would. So I am going to keep pushing until I do, and then I will push some more. And I will not give up. Those days are past now.
So, here’s to my first, and biggest fan — my mother. I dedicated my first novel to her, and my father, but in reality, I dedicate all my work to her. She believed in me when I could not believe in myself. And she inspired me to be better than I thought I could be. This one’s for you, mom. I love you, and I miss you.
I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day.