When I was in 3rd grade my mum told me that you can think up stories and write them down and if they’re good enough, then people will pay you for them. I wrote so much that summer that my fingers swelled and I developed a writer’s callous that has only just begun to fade.
Mum always wanted to be a writer and she gave that dream to me and Little Sis and my not-often-mentioned brother as well, who’s also a pretty decent storyteller. Our first stories were mostly fan fiction — retellings of Transformers and Voltron episodes and whatever shows tickled our fantasy.
When my Little Sis was struggling with writer’s block during her master’s thesis, my mom’s supportive words were, “Maybe you’re not creative enough.” My Sis loves that story, because Mum cuts to the quick. Aren’t you a writer? Isn’t that what writers do?
When she asked about how my writing quest was going and I told her I was still trying to query after three years, her response: “The hardest one is going to be the first one. Until people know your name.” You know, there is nothing untrue about that.
More lovely encouraging words from Mum to Little Sis: “I paid a lot of money for your degree, where’s my book?”
It’s always been matter-of-fact with Mum. This is what you do. Write your story and that is all you need to worry about.
One more story, the best one. On the day Mum was supposed to graduate with her teaching degree, she got onto a refugee boat and left her parents and native country behind to flee with her husband. She had plans to teach literature during the school year and write in the summer. Obviously, all those plans were gone the moment she left shore.
A woman in the boat saw that Mum was pregnant and told her that the child would be intelligent, being conceived in one country and born in another. That little bump inside her was me. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard this tale.
“Mom always knew you’d be smart,” she’d say.
I hope my mother decides to sit down and write again one day. What stories she must have to tell! In the meantime, thanks for the dreams, Mum. They’re pretty good ones.