Being a writer in a family of non-writers can be frustrating. You will be seen as weird, nerdy and a little strange. Creative types are usually a little dramatic; even if they are shy drama will ensue in some form or another. It’s the nature of the beast.
Yes, there are creative people in my family. My Aunt and Cousin are excellent party planners, my mother a wonderful interior decorator. My grandfather recreates beautifully intricate folk are from household items and I have a late uncle who was an artist, a painter. So there are creative types in my family. But none of them are writers.
Writous Neuroticas – My own Latin translation, thank you very much- is a different entity all together. This species is defined by their strong addiction to coffee, tea, sweets and in some cases wine. Writers are prone to weird outbursts, have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out how to get a character out of a predicament of our own construct. Only a writer has characters nagging them to tell a story a different way or have dreams of said character constantly reminding them that they are waiting for their turn.
No one else can understand the constant monologue running through our minds or the people who pop up at the most inappropriate moment. Characters hound us; stories come up in the blink of an eye and if not put to paper, will linger like a bad rash until they are expelled.
Writers, as I am often reminded by my daughter, sometimes speak as their characters. Not always out loud, but for several weeks my thoughts, my own personal thoughts, had a very strong Scottish accent. Odd enough for anyone, but especially odd for a black woman born and raised in New Orleans, a city with a dialect that is often imitated but never duplicated by actors around the world.
What made that little trip into madness even more bizarre is that I would sometimes say things out loud in that same accent, which would cause my daughter to stare at me with her head, tilted to the side her brows raised in question.
Once she even told me, with all sincerity, “Mommy, you know that in science they say people who have strokes sometimes wake up with weird accents. Are you having a stroke or is this just another writer thing?”
“Writer thing.” I replied and she relaxed. She, at 11, has become accustomed to my outbursts and frustrations. She has told me on more than one occasion that she can’t fall asleep without hearing me tapping away on the computer keyboard. She also has developed a talent for writing, which if fun because she is just as strange as I am at times.
She has gotten use to me reciting lines in the car and has even repeated them back to me when I forget what I said. Many conversations have started with, “What did I say in the car again?” She will repeat it as she goes about her life as if this is something that happens in every household in the world. Why? Because she is the child of a writer. She understands Mommy’s weirdness better than anyone else. And she kinda loves it. “Live your dream, Mommy.” She says and I kinda love her for that.
I say all of this to make a point. And that point is this- if you have a kid who talks to themselves, tells elaborate stories of make believe friends, has arguments with themselves or is always staring off in a daze, is a little bit nerdy and never quite fits in – take heart my dears, your kid is not crazy or a serial killer in training. Give them a pen and paper and tell them to get it out because you my friend are raising a writer. Welcome!