I have been father and stepfather to six young people, all adults now. Their work is far ranging. One is a web designer. Another a doctor. One in the music business. A tax consultant. A marine engineer. But now the youngest has decided to be a journalist, which is to say … a writer.
When my doctor daughter talks about medicine, patients, diseases, I understand very little of it, and am astonished how much information she has stored away. And how she cures people. When my music business son and I talk, we like to compare some of the quirky similarities between the music and book industry. You get the idea.
Having another writer in the family is different.
I never knew about his interest in writing (because he kept it a secret) until he filled out his college application forms and wrote down that he wanted to be a writer. He took pains not to read my books, or if he did, would not talk to me about them, much less tell me had read them. Whereas you might say Charles Dickens is my writer idol, his is Hunter Thompson, perhaps as far from my personality and writing style as he could go. It took a while to grasp his conscious or unconscious motivation: Yes, he wanted to be a writer, but wanted to be so on his own terms, in his own style, in his own niche and way.
Recently he read a new book of mine in manuscript—the first time he was willing to do so. “What do you think of it?” I asked. He said, “Feels like you are talking to me.” But then on LinkedIn, he wrote me this sweet recommendation: “A prolific author for young adults with boundless imagination and creativity.”
Maybe I should ask him to write blurbs for my books.
We have begun to talk about writing. I work hard not to give advice. Besides, what do I know about journalism? I am happy to talk about my experiences, a different thing. I can assure you however, it gives me the most pleasure to pick up the phone and call him.
“Hey,” I say. “How’s the writing going?”