Parental Guidance

There’s a lot to be said for sitting in a dark room plotting out your next story. Your characters come to life on the screen when it is the only source of light. The only sound is my mechanical keyboard clicking beneath my fingers. The close-enough typewriter sounds spur me on as I weave plot, setting, and character. But my insecurities start to show around the third paragraph.

Why am I writing this?

No one will read it?

This is going to suck.

Then my parents’ advice comes into my mind. I told each parent, separately, about my fear of failing at writing my book. Fears that no one would read it and, worse, that no one would buy it.

My mother’s advice, “That doesn’t sound like you. Just write the damn book, Sharon.”

My father’s advice, “You can’t be afraid to fail. Edison did it and so will you.”

Both make sense to me. My mother has never known me to back down from a challenge. For the first 17 years of my life, she was right there on the front lines of all things me. She saw me leave home at 17 and never look back. She listened as I brushed off her worries about living in New York City. She worried when I met a man on the train and married him years later. To her, I am fearless. I am her daughter. The daughter of a fighter. As a kid, I watched my mom fight the single mom stigma with no “baby daddy” drama, holding down and excelling at multiple jobs, advocating for and raising a daughter who graduated high school and college without a smudge to her record. (Yes, that was a pat on the back.) Now my mother fights for her health. Multiple Myeloma. I didn’t know those words just two years ago. It’s a type of cancer that attacks the white blood cells and crowds the bone marrow, weakening the bone. She has literally broken her back and still cares for my octogenarian grandmother.

My father has also been on the front lines but more so post my 17th year. Living in New York, my father visited me on campus when I attended college upstate. I would live with him on the weekend and in the summer for those four years. And he has remained a constant cheerleader since my arrival in New York. Being a comedian and actor, rejections are a part of his job.  But I’ve never known my father to back down from failure. He’s performed in major comedy clubs around the country and was a featured act for all the major cruise lines. When they let him go, he didn’t stop. He continued on the club circuit and cashed in on his talent as an actor and writer. He’s regularly been in Law and Order (all of them), in Broad City, and even in the Marvel Defender series, to name a few. He’s also one hell of a writer and director. From small films to plays to TV shows. I’ve even written with him on occasion. He just doesn’t stop!

Coming from strong parents is a blessing. They have taught me what it means to get back up when you’ve been knocked down. Failure is a stopgap to success. Their struggles will be my strength. Their lessons, my lifeblood. Failure is inevitable. I thought I was too old to go to my parents with my insecurities and fears. Once again my parents have taught me you that you’re never too old to go home again. 

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