Monday, November 14, 2011

Look, Ma, I Did It!

By Sue Ann Jaffarian
I first knew I wanted to be a writer at a young age, but it wasn’t until high school that I finally let the cat out of the bag.  I remember telling my mother, a factory worker who never finished high school, about my dream.  I expected her to be excited about it since she was a voracious reader, but what I got instead was, “That’s for rich people’s kids.”
Now before you boo and hiss my mom, consider this: she grew up poor with a lot of brothers and sisters, her father was an alcoholic, she had limited education, and even more limited dreams.  Her expectations for me were that I finish high school and not get pregnant before I was married.  If I could accomplish that, her job was done.  When I entered college on scholarship, she seemed proud but cautious, even going so far as to say I was trying to be something I wasn’t. She was afraid I’d get hurt by reaching too far.
When my father, the 13th child of immigrant parents and who never finished school beyond 6th grade, was told about my dream of being an author, he gave me a fatherly, condescending smile and said, “That’s nice.”
Neither expected me to do it. I might as well been telling them I wanted to be a bounty hunter on Mars. I’m not dissing my parents. They did what they could with what they had. We never went hungry, always had a roof over our heads, and always had clean clothes to wear, even if our home life was rocky.  Writing a novel that people actually paid you to write and other people paid to read was something other people did; not them, not their children. By going to school and landing a career as a paralegal, I had exceeded their expectations, and I remember how proud my father was of me for doing that.

Still, it wasn’t until I was in my early forties that I tackled my dream of being a published author. By then, both my parents were deceased.  I had started many a novel between my twenties and forties, but never stuck it out to the finish. Once I did, there was no turning back. I was not only hooked on writing, I had proved to myself I could do it, and had found the love of my life.
My 11th published novel, Gem of a Ghost, will be out February 2012.  The dedication reads:
For my parents, Art (Arakel) and Margaret. 
If I have one regret about my writing, it’s that you are not alive to read it.
But then again, maybe you are …

6 comments:

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Your dedication made me tear up, Sue Ann. What a lovely post!

Thank you for sticking with writing. Someplace, I bet they are so proud.

gregkshipman said...

Bravo, Sue Ann, Bravo... not only have you 'done it', but you've done it well! I, for one (you know how us humid beans wanna be exclusive) absolutely LOVE your writing... LOVE your 'voice' (regardless of the character you attach it to)... LOVE your style.

I can relate to your parents reaction to your desire to write professionally. I grew up 'Pour' (so poor I couldn't even spell it)and my dad's wish for me was to work in the steel mill in Baltimore (pay was good regardless of your color); my mom's wish was for me to avoid getting shot or arrested before I finished high school... and my two brothers' wish was for me to move so there'd only be two in our bedroom!

So I fulfilled my mom and brothers wishes... sorry, dad, I tried the mills for a year and believe me, papa-san, it's a great exercise routine but I prefer the 'engineer' dance (and just for you,don't sweat it- my collar will always be blue)

Congrats, Sue Ann

Reece said...

Very nice post, Sue Ann. And just imagine how proud they would be to know that you hit #1 on the Amazon Kindle chart this weekend!

Sheila Lemieux said...

Of course you knew your mom best, but I remember the tough "Chambers" exterior but she was an old softy to me...I loved her so much & miss her still today. I am sure she is proud of you, how could she not be?

Meredith Cole said...

I'm so glad you were able to both imagine becoming a writer, and actually make it happen, Sue Ann. Thanks for sharing your story (and very sweet dedication).

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks for stopping by, folks. I'm sure they would be proud, too.

Reece, I don't know about them, but I'm still floating over that #1 spot. I'm #2 now and don't mind a bit!

Sheila, your Aunt Margaret adored you and Mary Jane. xoxox