Just the other day someone asked me what it was like to be a “professional” writer. On the exact same day, I was asked if I ever had a “real job.”
This coincides with the news about the “Great Resignation,” also known as the “Big Quit.” This, we are told, is a growing trend with employees resigning in a sort of “life is too short for this” statement.
I started writing over two decades ago. I was working from home decades before the pandemic made it necessary. Journalism majors are taught to “write what you know.” As it turns out, I know children, goats, spoiled dogs, old houses and their ensuing “little attacks of charm” and how to be married to the most patient man on earth. That last one is pretty easy.
The parenting turned out pretty easy too. We were blessed with two fairly easygoing babies who turned into amazing adults — sometimes because of and sometimes in spite of our best efforts.
The thing with writing about your life and those closest to you is that you have to be cognizant of what is and isn’t permissible. Erma Bombeck once famously said, “I found a very long time ago that the only people that you could write about and would not get rotten mail on would be maybe Adolf Hitler.” That sounds about right.
I decided early on that I wouldn’t write anything about other people that I would not want to read about myself. That works pretty well except for the fact that I am a complete dork. I tend to just admit that so we all know what we are working with. I suspect I get into situations that more savvy people would have avoided. I just can’t seem to resist.
It’s not as unusual now, but I remember a time when people thought that blogging or writing about your kids would mess them up psychologically or get them kidnapped. I can see those points. I can now report with absolute confidence that BoyWonder and GirlWonder don’t seem damaged or broken. I have also, quite helpfully, left a clear paper trail if they are.
I have long said they won’t need to spend years in therapy unwinding their childhoods. I’ve written it all down in black and white. MISTAKES HAVE BEEN MADE. If you are ever in a living situation with BoyWonder and realize how he cares for laundry, dirty dishes and shoes, I am sorry — so, so sorry.
I am proud to say he has grown into the man his peers look to for strong life advice. He is also the man who has sipped his beverage OUT OF A VASE rather than wash a glass. Life is all about being adaptable after all.
GirlWonder is now a wife and very patient dog mom. She juggles law school and externships with being a supportive military spouse. I could not be more proud of her. I am still waiting for the release of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Be The Parent of Adult Children.”
I feel like we did okay with our “build-your-own-humans, no-experience-necessary” projects up to this point. However, I’m still learning the ropes of the care and feeding of a son-in-law and (future) daughter-in-law. I know nothing! Were they properly warned what joining Team Seabolt would be like? There probably should have been some sort of seminar.
Mr. Wonderful continues to be the most patient man. I suspect he doesn’t always read my columns. (slacker!) He’s really gotten good at nodding along in public when people reference them, however. Then, he comes home and says, “where’s the paper? What did you say about me?”
My closest friends know that despite the inherent risks of being close friends with a dorky writer, I will never breach their confidence. What happens at book club, stays at book club — or, as our adult offspring refer to us: “Cake Club.”
They were all thrilled to pick out aliases, just in case, though. So “Kate,” “Sam,” and “Verda,” rest assured that your secrets are safe with me. Your cake, not so much.
I am surrounded by a truly amazing family and many wonderful friends. I have no desire to quit. There is no greater gift than home and family. Two things I have written about for decades.
“Write what you know” indeed. I have a career with creativity and fan mail. My family is happy and healthy, and it’s probable that no one needs therapy. I know that people send me actual snail mail, email and comment “I read you first.” Every one of those comments and compliments make my day.
I know that I continue to be blessed to do what I love with those I love. I pray that all of you are too.
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