Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Guess I'm Lucky That Way

Does your writing ever interfere with your family life? Do the demands of your fiction ever create friction with those closest to you?

- From Frank

In a word, no.
Image result for thanksgiving turkey

It's fitting that this question comes during the week of American Thanksgiving, a time we not only overeat but also focus on family. But honestly, writing has never created any friction with my family.

Not everyone is particularly interested, either.

I think if you asked my kids (all grown now), they might rightfully say that I spent time at the keyboard at their expense. I'm sure it happened, and I'm just as sure that I was blind to it at the time. I was engaged in my passion, and they were kids -- what are they going to say? How many kids call their parents out on anything, at least while they're kids? Most times, those conversations happen when they've become adults. 

At Thanksgiving.

Most of my extended famly has been largely ambivalent toward my writing career. I think it is a matter of familiarity breeding amiable contempt. It's the same with any art - "Oh, she can't be a real singer. I know her. He can't be a real writer. I know him."

If you took a poll of, say, my forty closest relatives, I'd guess you'd find maybe five ardent supporters and readers. For the rest, my writing career is "Frankie's little book thing." Maybe they've dabbled, maybe they don't even know my pen name, but they're vaguely aware of the whole thing.

Now, I say that without rancor. They just don't pay attention to it. And to be fair, how "big" am I, even within my own mystery and crime fiction tribe? It's not like they're related to Stephen King. Or Jim Ziskin, for that matter. And to be really fair, how much do I know about their passion? It's a two-way street, so I can't complain.

Those that are engaged really make up for it, though. My Dad and Gail (my awesome maternal figure) are hugely supportive. They have a Zafiro library at the house, and actively promote and loan copies to their circle of friends. They ask about each new project and dive into it when it is published. 

Sure, some of that is putting your kid's drawing on the refrigerator. But they've both gone to great pains to be clear that it is just as much about them sincerely loving the books, regardless of the author. And neither one is shy about telling me what they don't like, or which stories didn't grab them as much. Gail is still famously after me for a passage I wrote about sussing out a woman's age, or for a relationship choice one character made that "was just gross." And my Dad didn't dig A Grifter's Song at all, despite the killer covers.

So if a reviewer is willing to give you a bad review, you gotta believe the good reviews, right?

The answer is, yeah, you do. Even if they're posted on the fridge.

Of my kids, my daughter is the first to really read some of my work. She's going to college while working, so it's a slow go, but she likes discovering the books and having access to the author afterwards. Of course, it helps that a couple of her friends are big fans. Last time she was down to visit, she was pretty proud of contents of the "Zafiro" bookshelf in the study and took a picture for social media bragging rights. ("How many books has YOUR dad written?" - at least, that's what she said when she snapped the pic).

When I read the question for this week, my first thought immediately went to my wife, Kristi. She's the one who would be most likely to be impacted by the time I spend at the keyboard, right? And she did ask me earlier this year to minimize (or even stop) working on the weekends, so that we could spend her time off together (Ironically, I'm writing this on a Saturday, but to be fair, she's sleeping in).  I agreed, of course. I also taper back in the summer, put my podcast on hiatus, and free up more time for us during that season.

But in terms of friction, that's the closest thing. 

Kristi has always been ultra-supportive. She's critical and honest, but also my number one rock. She refuses to believe me when I hand her something and say it probably sucks, and refuses to let me believe something's ever perfect. When I need to bounce ideas around, she great for that. She's given me some great ones, and made others that I hated but that ended up sparking a separate idea that I liked, so that's just as good. She doesn't mad if I don't use her ideas, or get jealous the time I spend writing, or of any heroines I might write about (even the sexy ones). 

If I need to hear it, she tells me that I'm a good writer. And if I need to hear it, she tells me something sucks and needs more work.

In short, she believes. 

Everyone needs that person in their life, and I'd be sad if my writing caused friction in that relationship. So I'm glad I can answer this question with a resounding no.

And I sincerely hope I'm not oblivous to any yeses.


Blatant Self Promotion Brought To You By Me

My newest book, At Their Own Game, was just released from Down and Out Books last month. 

This novel is the first in my SpoCompton series, which focuses on telling stories from the perspective of those on the wrong side of the thin blue line -- the criminals. The second, In the Cut, comes out in January 2020.

At Their Own Game features Jake Stankovic, a former cop turned fence, who runs a two-man crew. He's doing great until he breaks his own rules and gets in over his head on a deal. Now he has to deal with a pissed off drug dealer, a pissed off police detective, a worried and possibly treacherous crew, as well as a dangerous woman from his past....and he has to find a way to beat them all, at their own game.  


Paul D. Marks said...

Frank, you are, indeed, lucky, that your wife is so supportive. I'm lucky in that way, too. But I know people who aren't and it really causes problems.

Frank Zafiro said...

@PAUL, I can't imagine how difficult that must be. I do have a close friend who has issues re: the writing with his mate, and the level of angst and frustration is obvious.

Susan C Shea said...

My first husband was annoyed when my writing (then, non fiction, mostly features for newspapers and magazines) interfered with the comfort of having a wife who cooked, cleaned, ironed his shorts, etc. I did say "ex," right? The LOML cheered me every step of the way. He was an artist and knew how tough the creative path could be. We're the lucky ones, I guess.