The topic this week for Romance Writers Weekly is, “Who or what inspires you?” That’s an easy question for me to answer: My mom.
The title of this post comes from Mom herself. We’d have some adventure or another, and she’d comment I had another “weird mom story” for my friends. Over the years, I’ve learned she definitely wasn’t what one would expect for the time and place I grew up in, but when I think back to who inspired me to become a writer and tell the stories in my head no matter what, everything points back to her.
I’m not quite certain how old I was when I asked how Doctor Suess books were made, but it was Mom who told me he went to the office every day to write and draw them. Just like my dad went into the office every day to program computers. She didn’t discourage me when I said, “I want to do that!”
Nor did she discourage me when I wanted to be an archeologist, either, but began putting books in my hands so I could read more. I knew a lot about mummys and the bodies of attendants buried in the roytal tombs of Ur by the time I was ten. When I got hooked on Dark Shadows and wanted to know more about vampires and werewolves, she found books for me on both the both the legends and the film versions. With very few exceptions, I was never told I was “too young” to read something and she argued with the school librarian more than once for me to be allowed to read “above my grade level.”
She praised the first, halting stories I put down on paper — and was very firm on the commandment “Thou shalt not plagiarize other people, no matter how much you wish you’d written it first.” She let me reader her Great Gothic Novel with the mutant monkey paw as it rolled out of the typewriter and steal her copies of Writer’s Digest. Sometimes, she’d point out specific articles she thought I should read or would enjoy.
When I sneered at a particularly stupid television show and said I could do better, she pointed me toward the typewriter. When our old Royal manual began to give out, she was the one who advocated for a Selectric, which she said would benefit both her and myself. She also helped me paste up my first Star Trek fanzine.
All of this was before I reached high school. I was never told, “Don’t write,” though she made certain I understood the importance of keeping food on the table and a roof over my head (along with a working typewriter). She didn’t quibble with my decision to attend a performing arts school rather than my zoned high school, nor did she tell me I was wrong to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. However, when I called to say I was giving up acting in favor of writing, she cheered rather loudly. This was followed by asking the going price of a garret because I’d need one if I was going to expire from tuberculosis and leave my copyrights to her. (The idea garrets in Los Angeles were out of my price range didn’t surprise her.)
I could go on and on. She did all the stuff we expect moms to do — took care of me when I was sick, saw me through the various tramaus of my school years, cooked and cleaned, ferried me around and put up with the stupid things kids do. She loves comic books and horror movies, cooks an amazing pot of chili, sews at a professional level and costumed any number of local theater productions. Most of all, she encouraged me and never stopped believing I had talent and ability even when I doubted it myself. Reading her letters, I can hear the origins of my writing “voice” and that is probably one of the greatest gifts she has ever given me.
Next, hop on over to visit Jenna Da Sie to read what inspired her. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy.