A little while back my buddy Moonrat did this awesome post on "Do I really want to be published?" that could have been written about me. In fact, it was. And as excellent as Moonie's advice has always been to me, I've never been able to get to that zen state about my book. Until now. Because my Mom did the smackdown on me. And it was good.
My folks came down this weekend for a visit. They've known that I've been under a lot of stress and were worried about me. The first thing my Mom says is to get off the laptop. "All that computer does is give you stress. Turn it off and come sit down and talk."
I turn off the computer and sit down, heart sinking for the lecture that I know is coming. It won't matter if I'm 60 years old, my parents are always going to lecture me. That's life.
"Ellen, why are you so stressed about this book?" my Mom asks. "Why don't you forget about it already."
"That's impossible, Mom. I just can't forget it."
"Not forget forever. Just for a little while," my Mom says. "Listen, don't be stuck on your book. Let it go and be happy. When you are happy, really happy, then go back to it. Nothing works when your brain is filled with stress." She rubs at the crease between my eyebrows. "Your brain is all filled with worry and stress and miserableness. Why you want to put that in your book? You put that in your book - who want to read it? Happiness makes your healthy. Healthy makes your brain happy. Then you write your book."
I nod and sigh. "It's not that easy..."
"Of course it's not easy." My Mom shakes her head at me. "You and your sister got your writing gene from your Dad. He's a great writer. Great newspaper columnist (my Dad had a column in the national Korean American paper for years). But then he write 3 books and they don't do good. He's depressed and give up writing. That's why he's worried about you girls. But I'm not worried. I know one day people will applaud me just for being your mother. You will be great one day. But don't rush it. You don't have to. I will live until I am 110! You have plenty of time. Don't rush."
I begin to laugh. "Thanks Mom. Maybe one day then it'll all work out for me. It's just hard when I see all my friends succeed and I wonder when it will happen to me." (My wonderful, fabulous critique group is made up of me and 3 authors who I knew from the day I first read their work that they would all be published because they were that good. And I was right. All 3 have book deals for 2011 - and I couldn't be happier for them.)
My Mom smiles and grabs my hands. "What kind of writer will you be? Some writers will write 10 books that are all forgettable. You will be the writer that writes one book, but it will be unforgettable. I believe in you. Some people lay eggs that turn into chickens - others lay eggs that turn into eagles. You are no chicken. You are an Eagle. One day you will soar."
"Funny - I thought you were going to say swan, but I like the eagle analogy better," I say.
"Swan, BAH! Only look good on outside. Open its mouth and the ugliest sound come out. Eagle is better. Look strong, look powerful, be strong, be powerful."
"Thanks Mom, you're right."
"Of course. I'm almost always right."