If you know anything about me, it’s that my family is very important to me, and my daughter is absolutely the apple of my eye. It’s amazing to watch her transformation from kid into young woman. It’s with great pleasure that I have to tell her to stop reading yet another book and come help with dishes, or put the lights out. It warms my heart to see her learning to truly believe in herself, be herself, and see that nothing matches hard work and brains combined. We have great conversations, usually when I’m making dinner or cleaning dishes. Today she asked me, “Is life easy for you, Daddy? Because it looks that way.”
I told her it wasn’t. I told her about some of the key challenges we face, from financial, to my daily medical struggles (chronic pain, severe asthma, inflammatory fun), to trying to write books while taking care of her brothers pretty much full time. I was able to keep it informative, rather than shattering any illusions.
I spoke to her about how easy is what it usually looks like when you work hard and can handle it. Lucky is another term that gets thrown around a lot when you’re working your butt off. I was able to get into how learning to challenge yourself early in life, being able to break things down and overcome them, is a vital success skill. Too many people avoid challenges in life until one day, they can’t any more, and something that objectively isn’t that hard, becomes insurmountable.
This got me thinking about the role of writers. We can take the same set of circumstances, the same end results, and show strength from it or highlight weakness. We can inspire the reader or we can feed their fears. It’s a privilege, and one that we should recognize can have a profound affect on people. Those of us who write middle-grade and young adult material, all the more.