Where my mom encouraged me to chase the dream and never give up, my dad gave me advice from a level-headed POV. My dad always looked at things from the logic perspective, not necessarily discouraging me, but helping make sure my feet were firmly on the ground and I still had touch with reality.
His words of wisdom always reminded me, the industry is hard, it's not for the faint of heart. Not everyone can get published or are good enough to be. Most people can't make a living at writing without a day job to pay the bills, unless you become a best seller. In the writing business, there is criticism, and most of it IS constructive, but he wanted to prepare me for the not so constructive words that might come my way.
I think he did believe that becoming a writer was as far-fetched as being an artist or a singer or a musician or an actress. Perhaps he thought it very naive and bohemian and unrealistic. What I wanted to be was not the typical career choice that most people aspire to, so how do you encourage your daughter while warning her of the harsh reality that lofty dreams aren't always achieved without hard work and perseverance?
Just like any Daddy, I'm sure he worried that his "little girl" might get her feelings hurt, or get discouraged by the criticism of others. Sometimes I believe his advice was bred from his concern and fear for my well-being, my happiness and his worries that perhaps he hadn't prepared me well enough for life—for my future.
I know he worried because he constantly reminded me that I was growing up in a different generation wherein women worked just as men did and I might not "have a man" like him- like my mom does, who would take care of me. It's a very 1950s mindset, but I do think he worried about me and my sister because most young men had grown to accept, if not expect, their wives to work outside the home and raise a family. I was naive enough to hoped I would get married and be a stay at home mom, a wife and a writer.
I think that's why my career choice worried him- what if I couldn't support myself on my own if I didn't get married or didn't have the higher education to take care of myself? Would I work outside the home? If I married, would my husband expect it of me, or me expect it of myself? How could I pursue writing seriously while working another job? I'm not sure he understood that writing is not something you have to set aside because you have other things going on. Just as you would with any other thing you enjoy, you incorporate it into your life.
What I do know is that he wanted me to be able to live independently, regardless of what my future held, but would I be able to survive in the world as a writer? What if I never got published? How would I take care of me?
The landscape of writing has changed a lot since I first told my parents I wanted to write and it's changed a lot in recent years as well. It continues to change everyday. What my parents gave me is the adaptability to dream big but live realistically because in actuality, I got the best of both worlds by having two parents who balanced each other out in the parenting arena.
A dreamer and a logical thinker helped prepare me for the career I'm now pursuing. One encouraged me to reach for my dreams while the other made sure I kept my feet firmly on the ground.
It's all about balance and structure- having the heart to believe anything is possible and the brains to handle whatever comes at me.