Phone Conversations with Parents About Writing


So now you wanta be a writer? Is this going to end up just like the acting thing?

Mom, I never made it in theatre because I never tried. I can’t give up on myself this time. I need to try. How am I going to know if I don’t ever try?

Hmmm. ( I make some upset type of sounds) What? What are you upset?

Yes. I’m upset.

Well what do you want me to say?

You’re supposed to say you believe in me, that you support me, that you have faith in me.

Well, I’ve never seen your writing. How’m I suppose to know if you’re any good?

You’re supposed to say it because I’m your kid for Christ sake! You only have one!

I’ve supported you. I supported that you went to school.

School? School? School isn’t a risk mom, and besides your supposed to support me deciding to go to school that’s part of being a parent.

We’ll I never got the book.


No. No. Send me some of your writing so I can read it and if you are any good then I’ll believe in you.

Mom! No.


No. You Don’t get to read any of my stuff. Ever.

Why not?

You don’t believe in me, you don’t get to read it.

Okay. I believe in you honey. (short Pause) Unless, I don’t think you’re any good. (She laughs)

Not funny.

So what kind of book are you writing?

It’s a fiction.

Oh like a mystery?


A horror?

No. It’s a story about some people living in Prague and the things they go through there.

So is it a romance?

No mom, it’s not a romance.

Well what is it than?

It’s a story about people in a place living and doing things. You know a book about people. You read.

Like Steinbeck?

Yes. Like Steinbeck.


So what kind of book are you writing?

It’s a fiction.

So is it a science fiction?

No, it’s a book about this woman who goes to Prague to live and it’s about the people she meets and the experiences she has.

So it’s a romance.

No it’s not a romance.

Well is it a mystery then?

No dad, It’s just a story about people doing stuff in another country.

Doesn’t sound like it has much action.

It doesn’t. It’s like Hemingway dad.

Well if it’s like Hemingway than you should be good.

(Later we talked about my recent application for a grant. My father didn’t understand what a grant was, that it was awarded to you and that you didn’t have to pay it back like a loan. This was a surprising concept to him, which I imagine it would be to someone who had never heard of a grant.)

So how much money would you get?


Sheeeze-(he laughs) for that?

We’ll dad, it’s given over the course of two years so that’s like 25,000.00 a year and that’s about what people average.

Yeah but they’re working.

Dad. Writing is working.

So what do you have to do?

We’ll you set down your projected time line for your project. Like for myself, I said that I believe in two years time I’ll have my book completed.

We’ll yes! Only One? sheeze.

Dad, some people take years to finish their novels.

Yeah, well they work. They have part time jobs at least.

Some are full time writers and still take years. Writing a book isn’t that easy Dad. You try.

We’ll for 50,000.00 I bet I could. We’ll I guess it’s taken you six years to work on yours, what’s taking you so long?

The problem was mostly with the writer.

Mehm, well. What did you have to do with the grant?

(I told him what the grant comprised of and told him a little about how I structured my ideas behind the drafts. )

Sheesh how many drafts of this are you gonna need? No wonder its taken you six years.

I don’t know dad. Some people go through a lot of drafts.

Have you gone to the unemployment office yet?

No dad, I’m fine right now I have my rent paid up.

Well, I think you better get yourself down to the unemployment office pretty soon because times as they are it will probably be hard for you to get a job soon.




4 thoughts on “Phone Conversations with Parents About Writing

  1. Reblogged this on Leta1950 and commented:

    This was a post I wrote in 2008. I had lost my job right at the very beginning of the recession, and in between sending out resumes I was working diligently on my novel. My parents fluctuate between being supportive and not understanding why I don’t find a “real job”. It isn’t their fault really. We’ve always been poor, and they don’t understand why I would choose to be poor by trying to be a writer. I choose to be a writer the lack of money or the arrival of money that isn’t exactly my choice, and I hope it changes, but it’s the writing, the artistic expression, that matters. They love me though and that’s what matters too. Still, sometimes conversations like the ones posted can be trying and frustrating. Oh family, what can you do?

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