Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fear Of The Family


Not of the unknown, but of the family. Whether it's the immediate family (mother, father, sister, brother) or the screwy relations (cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and other assorted odds and ends), the family is what probably scares the writer the most.

I know it does me.

My comfort level in having people read my short stories/novels/novellas looks something like this, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest:

Complete strangers: 10
Blog readers: 8
Friends, no matter what the pecking order is: 6
Screwy relations: 4
Immediate family: 0

Notice how the immediate family ranks a 0, even though 1 was the lowest you can get.

Well my friends, let me tell you something. Ever since I'd started writing some six years ago, I made a personal vow that I would never show any of my stories to my immediate family. Why? Because my immediate family has, over the years, mocked and never took seriously anything that I've tried to do to either better myself or simply expand my knowledge and horizons.

So you can imagine both my surprise and my concern when my wife decided in the tail end of 2011, that she wanted to read my some of my short stories. Basically, the conversation went something like this:

"Can I read some of your short stories?"

And then it continued with me asking what she wanted to read and she told me what she wanted and with great reluctance, I pulled out my Spiderman folder that contained about six short stories: two that were published and four more that I was shopping around.

She enjoyed the stories and thus I dodged another bullet, since I was totally petrified that she would have a very negative reaction to what I had written, because as most of you know, I do not write clean normal stuff.

Fast forward to this year. This past weekend, she asked if she could read my chapbook "Betrayed!". Stupidly I had asked why. Smartly, she answered that while she was interested in the novel that I'd just sold, she didn't quite have enough time to read it, so she wanted to read something shorter.

With no option available to me beyond saying yes, I pointed to the small box sitting in the corner that contained pristine unsold copies and told her to help herself to a copy.

At this point, I had moved way beyond being petrified and was now residing in the realm of "I am in deep shit."

Yes, I really was that scared. Up until six months ago, my wife was both blissfully unaware of what I wrote for fiction and not even remotely interested in what I'd actually written. Now, not only is she aware of the kind of fiction that I write, but she actually wants to read it. Thus, I was occupying the residence of "I am in deep shit."

So I spent the entire weekend asking how she was liking the book, and much to my surprise (and quite frankly, to my relief), she said that she was enjoying the book very much.

Even though she was enjoying the book (and more pointedly, asked about my first one) and had enjoyed the few short stories that I'd felt comfortable in showing to her, it still doesn't change my personal rule of not showing my writing to my immediate family. I should mention one other reason why I won't show my stories to any of my immediate family: my immediate family, save for my daughter, don't read.

Yup, kind of hard to believe, but the plain truth is that except for my daughter, who inherited her love of reading from me, no one in my house likes to read. As a rule, my wife normally doesn't read except when she's feeling really adventurous, and neither do my son or my mother read, except the t.v. viewing guide.

So because of those reasons, I feel more comfortable in showing/talking about my stories to complete strangers, readers, friends, co-workers and screwy relations, than I do with my own family.

How about you? Do you feel more comfortable in showing whatever your hobby/passion happens to be, to your immediate family? Or, do you feel more comfortable in showing your hobby/passion to people who arne't your immediate family? Or is it a complete toss-up?


  1. I don't let my family read my blog, and I definitely wouldn't want them reading my book! :D

    I do let my partner read my reviews on music that I've started to write on Amazon, but even that I find slightly embarrassing.

  2. The finest writer I ever knew told me, "If you're family likes your writing, try harder."

    Cold comfort, sometimes.

  3. Joe: I definitely know what you mean.

    To the best of my knowledge, my family does not read my blog. They're more interested in either doing Facebook, doing computer games, or surfing YouTube.

    As a matter of record, it's only been very recent (like this year) that I had anyone else beside me actually compose something for this blog.

    Rick: Yeah, I agree with that sentiment.

    Now that you mention it, my son one day read a few pages of something I was taking with me to work and he said that he liked it.

    Scared the absolute crap out of me after he'd said it.

  4. My wife is my first reader of pretty much everything. I trust her judgment, and she reads as avidly as I do, though if you had one of those diagram things with the circles our preferences wouldn't necessarily overlap all that much.

    My parents both read my blog, which is a little weird to me. They don't comment online, but I always get comments when I see them. My mom is an avid reader, and I often see books I talk about online at her house because she buys them when I recommend them. As avid a reader as she is, though, they still aren't necessarily recommendations of things I think she'd like. So I don't talk about all the things I might otherwise.

    Finally, there are stories I would write that I wouldn't necessarily want my folks to read. What hamstrings me there is how to promote them, as they read the blog and my mom has also been on Facebook as well. That's a problem. So far that hasn't been an issue, but I figure I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

  5. Chris: It's a great thing that your wife is not only an avid reader but a great sounding board as well.

    I might have to start doing that a little bit with mine, as truth be told, she was a tad upset about the fact that when I was writing my novel, I didn't ask her the pointed questions I asked of my readers about situations/characteristics.

    I can understand the difficulty of trying to promote certain stories that you don't want your parents to read, and about the only thing that I can really suggest is that you promote them on your blog and when your parents ask about it, tell them that Chris the writer is much different that Chris the son.

    Which is what I do with my friends/co-workers/screwy relations when I tell them that me the writer/blogger is completely different than me as a person.

    You have to keep the both of them separated.

  6. That is great that she liked it! My whole family writes and reads, so we've always shared. With the exception of a screenplay my brother just wrote. He left me a message and said, "You can never read it, because you'll be so offended that you'll never speak to me again. Mr. RK would like it though."

    It's very hard to offend me, so Mr. RK asked, "Why? Is it about you?" Inquiring minds want to know!

  7. M: I'm very sure that his message more than piqued your curiousity.

    To tell you the truth, I was very surprised that she liked it. Then again, she has no problems watching horror movies, so go figure.

    Besides Jenelle, I'm the only one who really writes in my family.

  8. My immediate family reads everything I write. My daughters are astute critics, and will see things/inconsistencies in my work that I might overlook. The nice thing about them reading my stories is that it opens up plot points, character issues for discussion. It's those discussions that often fuel new ideas. Writing, on some levels, is actually much teamwork.

  9. My daughter has always been the only one to read anything of mine whether it's raw or finished. I value her opinion very much because she's brutally honest. I have two other friends whose opinions I value in the same way though I wouldn't let them read things until I think they're ready to go. I get nervous showing them, but I know they'll tell me the truth so they're invaluable.

  10. No - I don't think anyone in my family has seen my blog, although I refer to blog friends in conversation sometimes. I really don't think they would find it, at least I hope not. I'd rather keep that part of my life separate.

  11. Joanne: That's very cool of your family to be your sounding board/readers for your work.

    I guess in that way, writing can be considered to be a team effort.

    Talon: That's very good in that you have both a family member and a few friends who you trust enough to show your work to.

    I may one or two out there in cyber space/real world that I would trust enough to do that with (and that includes a couple of screwy relations who have been involved on both sides of the equation when it comes to writing), but for the most part, I plug on alone when it comes to critiquing my writing.

    Lynn: I try to keep my blog life separate from my personal life as well, but since I've spent the past three years bragging about my blog, it has become an exercise in futility.

    So I try my best to watch what I write, and if I have to drift into that volatile realm, I try to make sure that certain people are aware and/or comfortable with what I write.

  12. Lana reads my stuff, although I don't think she is a particularly objective reader. That's probably good. I get enough criticism elsewhere. :) My ex never really cared to read anything I wrote, and made various comments over the years disparaging my writing. She hurt me pretty badly a couple of times.

    My son does read my stuff at times and generally seems to like it.

  13. Charles: That's pretty good.

    My screwy relations like my stuff, at least some of my older stuff. They haven't read any of my new stuff and as far as I know, haven't read my blog. But they're pretty open minded people, so I don't think that they would object to anything that I've written.

  14. I use to be concerned about my family reading but they have become my biggest supporters.

  15. David: That is very cool indeed.

    I know that my wife supports me to a small degree, but I find more support from my friends in the cyber world and the real world than I do from my immediate family.

  16. My biggest problem with family/close friends reading my work is the opposite...everything is "great" even when I know it is "complete crap", cannot put my finger on why and need help figuring it out...

  17. Darth: I originally had that problem with co-workers and screwy relations. They thought what I wrote was excellent and nothing needed to be changed.

    However, as the years progressed, not only did I start receiving good feedback, but I managed to pick up a few writing tips that made me look at my stuff with a more critical eye and thus was able to better realize what exactly the issues were.


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