On Being Related to Non-writers

A number of years ago, my mother sent me a comic strip clipping. (What’s the digital-era equivalent of that practice?) It depicted a youngish woman signing books at a bookstore, and an older couple standing in front of the table. The caption read: If I’d known you were going to be a writer, I would have been a better parent.

I’m the only writer in my immediate family, although not the only storyteller or creative type. I kind of like being the only one, sort of in the same way I liked being the only girl in my family growing up. I have two brothers, and when the younger of the two was a fetus of unknown gender, one of my elementary school buddies told me that I should hope for a girl: “That way you won’t have to share a room.”

As the only writer, I don’t have to share a room with anyone. My brother Y can be good at animation and music, my brother O can be good at architecture, my husband can be good at art and engineering, my mom can be a great nurse, my dad a great professor. And I can be The Writer.

Sounds selfish from one angle, I know. But it also means I’m surrounded by people who are different than I am and make me see the world from different directions.

Of course, if I’d had a sister, I’m sure that would have been cool, and perhaps would have made my life–and me–different. If I were closely related to a writer, that would have turned out OK, too. I have sisters-in-law now, and I love them, and I have loads of friends who are writers, and I couldn’t do without them.

And Mom, you had plenty of warning that I was going to be a writer. I told you so when I was six.

Readers who are related or married to writers, feel free to tell your side of the story.


2 thoughts on “On Being Related to Non-writers

  1. Carol Ann Hoel

    I have been writing since I was a child. There was something inside me that insisted on expression in words on paper. You told your mother at age six that you were going to be a writer. Amazing! There was a speech writer in my family, but I didn’t know him on a personal level. Other than he, to my knowledge, I was the first. Now my daughter writes and my granddaughter writes. Both write poetry. My daughter wrote a fantasy tale for children when she was a young mother. We all write for pleasure. We all write our feelings on paper when we are troubled. It seems that troubles told become less troubling, even though no one may read them but the writer.

  2. Jen

    Interesting comparison: being the only writer and being the only girl. I have a sister, but she’s very different from me. While I express myself all the time–usually in an immediate fashion. My sister, L, has a talent for quiet listening, something that I’ve always admired about her. My kid, who is a single child (“only” isn’t PC anymore, I’ve heard), says all she wants is a brother or sister with whom to play. I have to tell her over and over again that, although I had a sister, we never played together. There are no guarantees in that department.

    Anyway, I think it’s a gift to be surrounded by people who have different talents than I do. As a writer, I think that I steal from their motivations and inspirations all the time, using them to drive my own efforts.


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