When Writing Becomes a Family Affair

I am so tickled to have special guest C. Hope Clark posting today. Hope is not only a fabulous writer, she’s the brain-child behind Funds For Writers, the go-to proverbial bible for writers in all stages of their careers. I’ve been reading Funds For Writers for more years than I can count and am honored to now call Hope a friend. Welcome, Hope!

 

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Hope and her grandson Jack

Lynn Chandler Willis is as dedicated a grandmother as I’ve ever seen. Family is the center of her world. So when asked to do this guest blog post, I itched to discuss family and the writer, and how the partnership is often crazy, hilarious, and eye-rolling unbelievable.

Blogs and forums abound with writer discussions about how to address the urchins that interfere with our journeys toward bestseller-dom. Of course we love the brats. No questioning that. Like kittens, they’re cute and can’t help themselves. We write around them, knowing one day they’ll grow up and allow us more time to create.

But what do you do when they are in their twenties and still in the way? And what about parents? Sisters, uncles and cousins? Once you publish a book or two, invariably your predecessors, successors, as well as those on the odd bent branches of the family tree, get in your way. And they are not as forgivable as kittens.

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Hope with Nanu Cookies and her son Matt

When I released Lowcountry Bribe, the first in my Carolina Slade Mystery Series, family and friends devoured the book, pointing out which character was which relation, enjoying the inside joke they thought they knew. (Except for my mother, who ordered me never to write about her.) My son asked why I made him a girl. The assumption was I had to be the protagonist and my husband the romantic interest. They pointed out “errors” in the story, telling me my children were never kidnapped, so why put that in the book? I developed a list of one-liners in response to these reactions, the main one being, “It’s fiction, people. That means pretend.” They’d roll their eyes as if they knew better.

When Tidewater Murder came out a year later, they quizzically scratched their heads. “Who is this?” they’d ask. “When did this happen?” Only one new character went into that book with a slight resemblance to a dear friend, a friend who’d challenged me to include him. The story was the purest fiction I’d ever written. “What?” they asked. “What fun is that?” “You sure this isn’t our cousin from Mississippi?”

And don’t get me started about the romantic scenes. “Did y’all really get it on, like on the beach like that?” Cue the standard reply, “It’s fiction.” Or consider the time my son said on Facebook about the subject, “Imagine how reading that stuff makes me feel?”

Or what about the ex-husband who won’t pick up the book because . . . there’s an ex-husband in the story. After all, writers “write what they know” and he believes I probably, subconsciously, wrote about him.

The public, and therefore our relatives, think every tale of fiction is rooted in reality, and some instances probably are. We use our experiences as catalysts. But we avoid the use of clones, resumes, and biographies taken from our family tree for obvious reasons . . . hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and the potential for misrepresentation. But what is it about families and their fear they are, yet wanting to be, subjects in a book?

Maybe it’s that desire for the proverbial 15-minutes of fame. Maybe it’s a way of feeling honored by being blood-kin to a famous author (tongue-in-cheek there). Maybe they can’t let loose of reality to spin fable, and don’t understand those who do.

????????????????????????????????????????Palmetto Poison is Slade’s third story, and this time she is full-bore investigating the most complex case of her life. Enter her boyfriend, his ex-wife (also an agent), his sister, Slade’s sister, kids, and a complete family feuding cornucopia of families she investigates for murder, drugs, and political favors.

My family won’t know how to react!

C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series with its newest release Palmetto Poison, available wherever books are sold. Please visit her website at http://chopeclark.com She is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, selected for Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for 14 years.

http://www.amazon.com/Palmetto-Poison-Carolina-Slade-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00IE68F54/

http://www.amazon.com/Lowcountry-Bribe-Carolina-Slade-Mystery-ebook/dp/B007A4CQ1U/

http://www.amazon.com/Tidewater-Murder-Carolina-Slade-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00CHT2PT6/

3books

 

Great expectations followed by reality

Paisley
Sweet Paisley making a wish

Every once in a while someone will post a funny card on facebook comparing expectations and reality. 99.9% of the time, the cards are an exact take on this crazy thing we call life.

Case in point, my Easter weekend. I’ll admit, it was pretty darn silly of me to have fantasized about the perfect dinner where we eat on fine china, drink fine wine from crystal goblets, dab at our well-fed mouths with linen napkins, and my grandsons all wear ties with their button-down shirts while the girls wear beautiful spring dresses and white patent leather shoes.

Yeah.

Well, for one, we can’t all fit at a table. Two, no one wants to spend the entire afternoon washing the fine china so our plates of choice tend to be from the disposable line. Along with the silverware. A truly fine wine makes us all shudder so we prefer the real fruity, sweet, and cheap, kind.  If we used a linen napkin, it would be to wipe up a spill before the Hi-C stains the counter top. As for the ties and spring dresses…oops…I’m back now…fell out of my chair laughing.

I think it kind of started a few days before Easter. My daughter Nina and I had all the grandkids outside playing on the super-duper playset. It’s two cedar playhouses with swings, slides, rope climbing, all connected with a cross-walk bridge. Beautiful day – let’s play outside! Before long, Ivy and Aiden were crying because they wanted the baby swings which were meant for the twins. Casey loved the swing; Ireland, not so much. She is NOT an adventurer. If she’d had more teeth than her four she’d have worn them to the gum from gritting them. Every time the swing moved, the look on that poor child’s face was sheer terror. Nina and I purposely moved it a couple times just to see her reaction. LOL. Just kidding. Well, okay maybe we did it just once. So anyway, Ivy and Aiden are still crying, Ireland’s ready to puke, and then it gets worse. Emma and Landon gang on up Ava and Paisley and call Ava a devil child. Ava’s feelings are majorly hurt so she runs to the porch, crying. Emma asks me if I’m taking them home anytime soon. When I tell her yes, she crosses her arms across her chest (she has this move down pat!) and yells in Ava’s direction “Good. I don’t want to stay anyway!” Nina overhears Emma and scolds her for being rude. Emma is mortified her Aunt Nina has scolded her and takes on a look similar to Ireland’s in the swing. We decide we’ve had enough “fun” time for the day and start herding kids inside (it’s worse than trying to herd cats!) You have to carry the twins or they’ll turn on you and head back to the playset just as you reach the porch. Taking the kids out to play is a two person job – one person can’t carry both twins. So our wonderful, beautiful play day ended with Ivy and Aiden still crying, Emma crying, Ava crying, and the twins crying because they had to come back inside. Great expectations that didn’t quite measure up.

Then there was Saturday before Easter. Landon had a baseball tournament to open the season. It was going to be great and so much fun. I truly do enjoy watching him play baseball. I love the whole crowded community center thing with games going on all the ballfields, kids running and playing, heat from the metal bleachers burning through your pants…ahhh. It’s what families are made of. And all those kids running around – they’re fun to watch. Unless their yours. Hard to watch the game when you’re chasing TWO sixteen-month olds and a two-and-half year-old around very crowded bleachers. An army of three adults and a teenager, and the twins and Ivy still managed to exhaust us. We did try and stop most activity when Landon was batting so when he, inevitably, asked “did you see me get that hit,” we could answer somewhat truthfully. I think the twins have seen their last ballgame (like they really watched it!) until they’re like, oh, maybe ten.

Then there was Easter. The kids never even ate, the twins napped through it, Garey was on call and had to work, and son-in-law Allen spent the whole time outside assembling a gazebo.

Honestly…I was a little disappointed. But then I remembered Nina and I sitting in the theater watching Le Miserable’ (or however you spell it!) and how we couldn’t stop giggling at how pretentious it all was. But yet we text to remind one another that “Duck Dynasty” is coming on.

My family. We don’t own a piece of fine china or a linen napkin. The kids cry, and cry, and fight, and get over it. Sometimes they puke in the swing, sometimes they gang up on one another, and sometimes they stand up for one another.

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Yeah…Ireland is wearing her brother’s pajamas because we live in the real world and sometimes ballet slippers just don’t work

I wouldn’t have it any other way.