Although it is now old news, I thought I would nevertheless call out Roger Rosenblatt’s entertaining essay in the New York Times on the position of the writer in the family. His granddaughter introduced him to her classmates as “Boppo, who lives in the basement and does nothing.” This reminded me of the time when my then three-year-old son informed his teacher that I was a “bookie.” *
I found Rosenblatt’s piece particularly poignant, because if you happen to follow this writer, you’ll know that he moved in with his son-in-law in order to help care for his three young grandchildren after the sudden death of his daughter, so my guess is that the “nothing” also includes a good bit of child-rearing. His piece goes on to examine the difficult place that writers occupy with respect to their loved ones; writing is a solitary pursuit, rarely money-making, and if not always outright selfish, it is necessarily self-directed. In many cases, writers earn their ambivalent status, and I know from many clients and writer friends, that carving out the space and time in which to create is fiendishly difficult, fraught with resentment/guilt.
How does your family—either immediate or extended—view your writing? Are they supportive? Indulgent? Bemused? Impatient? Suspicious? Downright hostile?
*Like the granddaughter’s characterization of Rosenblatt’s work, this is not entirely incorrect, but still.