Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Looking for Encouragement

For years, I tried to get my mom to encourage me in my writing. She was, to say the least, disinterested in encouraging this habit of mine. At times, she was even firmly against it, as if she didn’t think I was willing to do the things required to make a living.

Granted, writing has long been an escape for me. I think it is to some extent for every writer. It’s also a way we use to understand the world, even though it may seem odd to use the habit of making up stories to help us do so.

I can’t say I had no encouragement at all in my writing those years. My Star Trek friends were supportive, but I had little contact with them outside of club events. Even my closest friends, Ronald and Gerald, whom I’d regale with monologues about my plotting and worldbuilding and character creation were mostly noncommittal on active support of my writing habit.

But what bothered me the most was the fact Mom would not understand I had no aversion to working and paying the bills. She agreed to get a computer only after I proved that I was willing to work hard for it, which, I now think, was reasonable, but I also think, in a way, she shouldn’t have required proof of my willingness to work.

And I worked hard, not only at my paying job, but at my writing as well. I wanted more than anything to become a published writer those days, and the only route to that goal was to publish traditionally, so I wrote short stories and submitted them while working on longer novels. None of my stories were ever bought, but each rejection fueled my determination to succeed in the publishing world.

And Mom never really encouraged me. If I talked about getting a story published, she shot it down. Writing, in her mind, was a career to nowhere and nothing. No matter what I said to argue this point of view, she wouldn’t listen. I could see her point of view—that she thought I was unwilling to work because, in her mind, all I wanted to do was drown myself in my writing—but her opinion never changed even after I proved to her I was actually quite happy to work. I understood the need to do work besides writing.

It was an uphill battle to retain my writing habit with Mom standing against it. The more she railed against it, the more determined I got to do it and to make it succeed. This, I think, helped in the long run. Without Mom’s resistance to me spending most of my free time writing, I’d have given it up long ago, particularly when my short stories were regularly rejected.

But it gave me a kind of negative mentality about it. I’ve fought Mom so long on my writing that I didn’t realize I didn’t have to do it any more. Not until Thursday night. I’ve been writing for seven or eight years since getting SSDI/VA Pension and Mom’s not said a word against it—I’m fairly certain because she doesn’t see me as requiring a paying job.

But Thursday, when I was out with friends, I mentioned my writing, and got encouragement. Open, vocal support of my writing endeavors. Ross wants me to rush out and publish things right now apparently—LOL. It was an odd experience, because the most I’ve gotten from friends before is silent acceptance of my hobby. And I realize now my current friends have been encouraging about my writing pretty much since I admitted I do it. Open, vocal support of it, often encouraging me to publish it somewhere. It’s left me spinning for the past day, this realization.

One thing my friends’ encouragement has done is made me realize I don’t need Mom’s encouragement in my writing endeavors. I’ve gone this long without it, after all. So I’m still spinning, but I’m enjoying the ride. It’s nice to be enthusiastically encouraged in my writing.

8 Comments

  1. Hugs on the lack of encouragement from your mom. I wonder if when she was younger, her parents actively discouraged her from taking such an “impractical” course and she passed it on? Or she saw someone try, fail, and not be able to pick themself up afterward? (Sorry — the writer in me coming out — what’s this character’s motivation?) Anyway, big hugs. That must have been very hard.

    Hooray for now having friends who encourage you and want you to succeed, who want you to do even more! May you flourish in this rich new soil.

  2. Ditto on Erin’s comment. Usually that level of adamant comes from somewhere. Yay for having friends who encourage your writing, but it seems to me you’ve had those as long as I’ve known you :). It does take a while to recognize a change, especially a positive one. However, knowing what you’ve gone through for your writing does not make me think you needed that opposition but rather that you would have written no matter what the obstacles.

    I will comment, though: Publish when you are ready. Not when others tell you you are…or are not. You have to feel it and then it all falls together (in a crazy, wild, mad rush and tumble, but it works).

    • Thanks, Mar.

      Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a publishing plan worked out. First goal is to complete a number of books so I have enouth for a year. That total changes regularly, though, depending on how much I’m writing at any given time. LOL

      • Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have a plan and suddenly have this “now or never” sense and go for it :). I’d have preferred to be more prepared than I was, but…

        • I’m able to keep a pretty tight rein on my “now or never” impulses. Mainly by reminding myself I don’t have any completed series yet.

  3. Hugs, Ashe. I agree with everyone else’s comments. Sounds like you’re in a good place.

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