My first impulse was yes. Then I had to rethink the question. Was she really? It didn’t always seem so.
It’s true my mother more than tolerated my creative pursuits. She supplied me with pencils, paints, scissors, glue, and giant pads of paper. She colored with me. She drew pictures with me. She read to me. She taught me to sew and embroider, and let me cut up my clothes to redesign them. She let me paint on my bedroom walls.
As a girl, I remember laying on my back in the middle of the living room, staring up at the stucco ceiling for hours. She might have peeked in to see what I was up to, but she left me alone. She was probably just happy I was quiet — I’m sure she had no idea I was making up stories about the characters I saw in the swirls of plaster, or imagining the house as upside down and filled with water and I was swimming through it.
No surprise I showed an aptitude for art and writing in school. I told her I wanted to be a journalist, but that was only because journalists write, and that’s what I wanted to do. She said, “Oh, no, you can’t do that. That’s too hard.” I understand now she was trying to protect me from what she saw as the School of Hard Knocks, but, back then, I was devastated. Didn’t she think I was smart enough? What was she trying to say? Do something easy?
I pursued art instead of writing, but I have to admit my self-confidence floundered for many years.
Eventually I found my way back to writing. I went to conferences and poetry retreats and weekly workshops. My poetry was getting published. I won a chapbook award. I placed in contests. I felt successful. I was having a great time. My mom smiled and said “That’s wonderful,” but it wasn’t until I was paid for teaching a workshop that she said, “Now it means something.”
My writing didn’t mean anything before then? I had to laugh. it was okay. I knew what it meant to me.
When I switched from writing poetry to fiction, I told her about the stories I was working on, and she listened with great interest. She was excited for me when I entered a low residency program at the University of Southern Maine to earn a Masters of Fine Art in Fiction. But then I had a novel to sell. Every writer knows this is the official School of Hard Knocks. Even my mom knew getting it published would be hard work. I shared my ups and downs with her, and she empathized. Yet, several times she said to me, “Why don’t you write a children’s book? You’d be good at that.”
I just smiled and said “Maybe I will.” She was only trying to help me the best way she knew how.
The sad thing is my first novel will be published this summer, and she’s gone.
Looking back, I’d have to say yes, she was supportive. She loved everything I did. She allowed me my flights of fancy. She let me be a dreamer. In fact, when I got a D in chemistry, she said, “That’s okay. You got an A in English and art. You aren’t going to be a chemist.”
Sometimes her advice or comments may have been misguided, but that’s all right. My mother let me be me. She was absolutely supportive.
In the Context of Love: a new contemporary fiction about love, lust, and family secrets.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
“Linda K. Sienkiewicz’s powerful and richly detailed debut novel is at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River, and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters