My 24-year-old daughter unexpectedly joined me at the New Jersey Romance Writers Author-Reader Luncheon last weekend. She drove up to New Jersey from Philadelphia, where she attends grad school.
I must confess, at first I told her not to come. “I’m too busy,” I said. This was really a cover for–I’m not sure how I feel about you seeing me “in action” as an author. Oh, because I’m a new author, because I was afraid there would be no readers who’d ever heard of my books at my table, because I was far from our home in Ohio and I wasn’t sure if I’d even know the other authors at my table…the list of my fears went on and on.
But then I started to think. I have not had the chance to have my daughters or my son come to “work” with me for a long time. For the past few years, “work” consisted of Mom huddled over her computer in my office begging them not to bother me unless someone was hemorrhaging. “Work” was preceded by years of rejection. For years, I wasn’t sure what kind of example I was setting for them. After all, the only people I talked to all day long lived in my computer.
But now was an opportunity for my daughter to see me “at work.” It was an opportunity to introduce her to the wonderful, amazing romance community and give her a glimpse into what on earth my books are really all about.
My kids (all 19 and older) are sort of terrified of my books. “Do they have sex in them?” they ask me. “Yes,” I say with a straight face. “They do.” I try very hard to not qualify this by saying “not a lot” or “I write LOVE stories not SEX stories” or some other justification for writing romance. I’ve tried to tell them my books are about people overcoming their flaws, getting over past mistakes, finding love, and they’re about family and friendship and how family and friends mostly make things better but can inadvertently sometimes make things worse. But their love can get you through the tough times. Somehow my children distill all this down to “They Have Sex.”
But I digress. Last week, I courageously put all of my nerves aside. “Come to the luncheon,” I told my daughter. Because one day soon, I told myself, she’s going to be too busy to drive two hours to come see me. She’ll have a job and a husband and a family and…the opportunity will be lost.
And so she came. And it was so great! The amazing Nancy Herkness actually sat me at her table, and introduced me to her lovely readers who drove over two hours for the event and to fellow contemporary romance author Jenn Doyle. Jennifer Proffitt from the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog was at our table, too. All of us, coming from different backgrounds, had such a wonderful time talking about and sharing our love for books!
“Mom,” my lovely daughter said to me afterwards as I was leaving for the airport and she was heading home, “You work with a wonderful community of women. I’m so glad I got to come.”
I almost cried. Because she said work. Somehow, all those years of toiling did what they were supposed to do–add up to something meaningful in my daughter’s eyes. She got a glimpse into why I–we–write the stories that we write. At how supportive and awesome the romance community is. About how we are all bound together by our love of books and our belief in the power of transformative, optimistic stories.
I saw an interview recently on the Today Show–Matt Lauer interviewed Judge Judy Scheindlin. I can’t find the exact words of the interview on the internet, but she said our job as parents is to watch and find out what it is that makes our children happiest–then find a way to parlay that particular thing, what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing–into a job that will support them for their life’s work. I hope that my daughter saw that–that you can take what you love and make a career of it, because that is what I wish for her, too.