A little over a week ago, I spent a lovely 2 days at Chicago-North RWA's "Spring Fling" Conference. The fact that it's my home writing chapter doesn't bias me at all. (Not a bit! :-) Neither does the fact that I had good news and Ghiradelli chocolate squares to share with my fabulous chaptermates... But, if getting to spend a celebratory weekend with so many wonderful writers, agents and editors wasn't delightful enough, all the conference attendees were treated to an inspiring keynote by NYT bestselling author Debbie Macomber.
Anyone who's ever listened to Debbie knows she has a touching style of speech. Her prior addresses to writers have left me in tears every time, which is highly embarrassing and really interferes with my ability to concentrate on the dessert cheesecake. Last Saturday night was no exception.
But this time, between sniffles, I grabbed the conference dinner menu and jotted down one of the things Debbie said on the back of it: "When we follow our dreams, we give our children permission to dream."
This made me fight tears even more than usual because her words really hit home. Like many writers, I'd dabbled in fiction for decades, but it wasn't until my son was born that I got very serious about it. The reason, of course, was based in that netherworld between fear and love. I so loved this little baby and, at the same time, I was afraid of everything.
One of the many fears that haunted me was something I'd witness time and again in the lives of others: Parents who lived out their own dreams and ambitions through their children. I was petrified I'd somehow do this--consciously or unconsciously, it didn't matter which--so I felt I needed to do all in my power to follow my deepest dreams, regardless of the end result. I wanted not only to try to be a good example of someone who worked hard to create a life I loved but, also, to give my son complete freedom to follow his own heart's path without ever feeling a responsibility to complete any part of mine.
My son is now 9. He doesn't remember a time when I didn't write. He's frequently annoyed by the number of hours I spend at the computer (and doesn't hesitate to tell me so), but I know he's never doubted I'm doing what I love. He was the first person I told when I got "the call" and he was wildly excited...because it meant we got to go out to his favorite restaurant for dinner :-). Aside from that, though, it was just another afternoon with Mom--and, truly, that's exactly what I wanted it to be for him.