Daily #80: In the family

I fancy myself a writer, and now I do content writing as a job. My mum is also a writer, and being around her has given me quite a lot of lessons on the reality of being in a creative field.

The first time I realised writing was something she did was when she presented me with a manuscript of her novel when I was in my early teens. At the time, I didn’t realise the gravity of completing a novel draft. She asked me to read it and give her my thoughts, as I was in its intended target audience. I read it through, enjoyed it, told her it was good but that the ending was a bit confusing, and called it a day.

Since then, she’s written a short film which reached the finals in a competition and was subsequently produced, and now she works as a script writer for a soap opera.

She’s always struggled with confidence and self-worth, as well as faith in her work, and I was always worried that I’d feel the same. Her writing is constantly under scrutiny from a full set of people who aren’t writers, and it’s difficult for her not to take suggestions and criticism too personally.

But despite her feelings, she’s an amazing writer. I sometimes think that my job can be hard mentally, when I’m trying to push out content that I’m not familiar with, but she has to do it on a creative level. She becomes emotionally attached to what she writes, but it has to go through the same inspection-mill as my marketing content. It’s exhausting.

And if something goes wrong, rewrites have to happen – and that means writing an entirely new story-line in just a few days of work. Something which just isn’t possible for many writers.

Having a writer for a mum inspires me, but it has also taught me how best to deal with criticism. Not wanting to feel the stress she feels at her work being scrutinised, I constantly work against perfectionism, and force myself not to take criticism personally. While it’s fairly straightforward in my work as it’s not overly creative, I’ve also started to put my creative fiction out there too – on this blog, and entering competitions. I invite criticism on my work, rather than shy away from it. I’m a firm believer that ‘exposure therapy’ is a really effective way of getting over that hurdle.

My mum never published her novel, although I think it was very good – just needed some tweaks here and there. She told me she got stuck in the editing process. And as I’m writing my own novel now, we’ve agreed that once my draft is done, and I’ve done all the edits I can, we’re going to form our own little writing group – just the two of us. We’ll work on our novels together, and give each other feedback for editing and redrafting. I’m glad that the person who inspired me to write will be going on this journey with me.

That got pretty sappy at the end there – I just love my mum!

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