One of the things that’s surprised me about being a parent is that my son often feels like a miniature version of myself. I can see where some of it comes from, presupposing that it’s the way I act that influences the way he acts, but it’s the bits outside that make me wonder if a big part of his personality wasn’t just in there from day one.
Being almost eight years old (as he’ll soon be), it’s much easier to believe it’s a part of his natural personality as it’s already there.
I don’t know if my daughter will be the same in that way – she’s got a much cheerier disposition at nine months than I often have, though I know I’ve almost always got it around her. She’s got glimmers though could just as easily have come from my wife or I (although she’d be unlikely to admit it, we’ve got fairly similar personalities). My daughter has moments where it looks like she’s being silly on purpose, much the same as we are. It’s something I’m going to look at as we go on, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s influenced by us.
For the boy though, it’s different. We play a lot of minecraft together, he likes to write stories, be silly and tell jokes. We try and use the time we have together each Sunday.
Over the weekend just gone, he was telling me how writing is hard for him. Now he used to be able to just make up stories with a few things – I’d say “a knight, a cave, and a dragon.” and he’d tell a story about a dragon attacking a kingdom, a knight going to stop him, and an eventual resolution. Some of them impressed me; the first time he told me a story where the presumed hero died and the order was put right by a group of people afterwards, I was so impressed. As it went on though, these became less about the hero dying and more about the dragon/dinosaur/monster being the real focus of the story. That too, cool.
One of the bits of overlap with me is in confidence. Mine’s been a struggle since forever. I’ve talked about it here before, and it’s not an issue that’ll soon go away. I’ve made huge strides forward on it and am much more comfortable in myself than I was growing up, but it’s not a self-esteem endgame by any stretch. The boy hesitates a lot if he doesn’t think his answers are right, because he doesn’t want to be wrong. It’s the reason I created a bunch of rules or lessons for him which were really those bits of life-advice I wish someone would’ve ingrained in me when I was young. A lot of them could easily apply to writing.
Lesson 1: Don’t Give Up – Exactly how it sounds. If things get hard, work harder.
Lesson 2: Keep Trying – It’s a qualifier for Lesson 1. It’s not enough to not-quit – you gotta keep at it too.
Lesson 3: Believe In Yourself – Trust the instincts that back yourself. The ideas came to you, so let ’em work for you too.
Lesson 4: It’s Okay to be Wrong – If you’re wrong, at least you tried. Super pertinent to writing, too. Can’t fix a thing that doesn’t exist.
Lesson 5: Think About What You’re Doing – In all things, be conscious. You are your actions, so know why you’re making them.
Lesson 6: Don’t Drop your Banana Bread in your Coffee – That one’s his. See what I mean about him? It’s an official lesson/rule now for us.
Outside of those above, while we were talking on the weekend (in between helping do his homework and playing Minecraft), yep, as above, writing is hard. I agreed. Turns out he’s often worried that he doesn’t have good ideas – yeah, me too. That’s for the school stuff. Beside that, he came with me a few times during NaNoWriMo last year (and the year before). He wrote out a story that went over a few pages, split up into chapters, and it had good elements to it. He also told me he wants to write it out in a new book, making it better, add new characters. He’s also thinking about a bunch of sequel set after – something I’m immensely guilty of.
We were chatting about that, his ideas, and I went into brainstorming mode.
I do this a lot. At my writing group (which starts up again TOMORROW – at least from my perspective as many of them had been meeting during the year), I’d often do it. I’d listen to people talk about their stories, particularly if they were having problems, and throw out ideas. It’s part of why I considered doing a workshop thing for monies, but nobody’s going to do that with an unpublished writer. Anyway – he complimented my ideas but said he’d do something different – something of his own. He wants to tell his story his way.
That was it. Big moment of… I don’t know if it was pride, but recognition. I’m the same. If I talk about my ideas and someone offers a suggestion on where it could go, I feel that same bit. My story. Not with the beta readers that’ll tell me where it’s falling over or criticisms in general, but them “Put X in! Make Y do Z!” Hehe, totally sure, maybe, haha nope.
It’s not about making a story better or worse for me, and it seems not for him. It’s about it being ours.