After reading Elizabeth's post about support (or lack thereof) at Liz Writes Books, I was comforted by the fact that I wasn't the only one who didn't have a family or town of people rooting her on.
When I read Trudi Canavan's acknowledgement page for The Magician's Guild, where she thanks her father for being her number one supporter, I laughed (in a bitter, so-I-don't-cry way).
If I were to mention my dad it would go something like this:
To my father, who has consistently put down every artistic pursuit I've ever undertaken and made me feel ashamed for not being a banker or owning a private jet.Thanks for making me wish I were anyone but myself. I'm sure you'll find a way to put down the number of books I fail to sell and point out that Stephenie Meyer is still much richer than I.
(I feel the need to interject that luckily my Tiger Mother is exceedingly supportive of my artistic pursuits.)
My boyfriend and I had a big laugh over my fake acknowledgment - it's a common one for our generation of Chinese-Americans. Though it's taken me decades, I've come to accept that my dad and his friends (because the Chinese are kind enough to lecture their friends' kids too) and even random people (that's how intimate the Chinese are) will never support my writing(/singing/dancing/acting/composing/etc.) I will always be a lazy hippie to my dad and that's okay.
I used to envy my white friends whose parents actually told them they would love them no matter what they did with their lives.
What the heck is that?!?
I can't even imagine a concept of unconditional love for the Chinese. It's laughable. And ridiculous.
Even my boyfriend, who is 100% supportive of my chosen career, is not that husband authors thank profusely for being their first beta readers blah blah blah. My boyfriend's Cantonese. If you're Cantonese, I don't need to say any more.
For the rest of you, I mean he's blunt and, in his own words, "wants to get sh** done." To this day he hasn't read a single complete manuscript of mine, short story or otherwise. The most I've dared show him is one sentence. You heard me.
He managed to make me cry over that one sentence. (We're working on the "good feedback first" policy...)
Sometimes You Have No Choice
It sucks going it alone. I landed in Hollywood by myself with zero connections and pulled myself up. I booked the first national commercial I auditioned for (Hewlett Packard - I played a skater girl). It's not that common to make SAG (Screen Actors Guild) after just two months in L.A.
That didn't impress Dad.
My father spent the entire time sending me letters about why I was making the biggest mistake of my life.(One was accompanied by a highlighted article of a Harvard graduate who gave up acting to be a lawyer.) We had shouting arguments on the phone. I had a much older boyfriend who was jealous of my success. (Father issues much?) One rejection was so painful I curled up on the floor of my closet and cried in fetal position. Oh yeah, I've been there.
Eventually I left the entertainment industry, too burnt out to fight anymore.
I would never do it alone again. I'm grateful that the writing community is (mostly) founded upon support rather than competition. I was amazed at how instantly friendly my critique partners were though they'd never met me IN REAL LIFE (soon to change...) These are people whose names are engraved in my future acknowledgments page.
But sometimes you have no choice. Whether it's writing, or dealing with horrible life crap (my involuntary specialty), sometimes you gotta do it alone.
And that's okay.