I called my dad yesterday. We had the same conversation we always do when we talk about my job. Even so, I was lucky we talked about my job. Usually he just talks about himself until he’s done, when he says “I’ll be talking to you,” and hangs up.
This time he asked how my family was doing. He asked about the kids. I told him and then he asked, “How’s your writing? Did you write anything lately?” I write in various capacities every day, unless I post the blog on Saturday, then I get Sunday off.
“Well, this week I finished a story for The Costco Connection, and I finished writing a story for the parenting magazine,” I said.
“So what are they, like the newsletter I pick up in the supermarket?” My dad is a huge fan of this guy who writes, poorly I might add, a conservative newsletter that he distributes in supermarkets. He sells his own ad space and my dad thinks he’s wildly successful. I’m sure the fifty or so people who read it think so too.
“Ohhhhh,” he said. I have told him that last bit at least eight times.
“And this week I sent a children’s book, called ‘Timmy and the Taming of the Tantrums,’ to an agent. I also sent a follow up email to a publisher who’s looking at my other children’s book, ‘Becky and the Battle of the Binky.’”
“So these people have connections with magazines?” he asked.
“No. These are books,” I said.
“What about that ‘Highlights’ magazine? Are they still around?”
“Yes, but what I sent are children’s books.”
“Like the comic books we used to get?”
“No. Books! Thirty-two-page books. Like Doctor Seuss.”
“Books, really?” (Again, we have discussed this at least eight times.) “And do they pay you?”
“If they buy my book, then yes.”
“How do you get paid?” he said, suspicious.
“They give an advance and send a contract that states how much I’ll get from the sale of the books,” I said.
“How do you know they’re legit?”
“They’re real publishing houses, like Random House and Penguin – real companies.”
“How do you know these people are affiliated with the companies?”
“I met them at the writers conference. I told you about the conference.”
“So it’s on the up and up?” he said.
“Yes, it’s all legitimate,” I said. AAAUGH!
How many times do I have to tell him what I do until he understands it? (And believes me.) This is the same guy who put down “homemaker” as my occupation on a bank form. I had to white it out and change it. It doesn’t matter. To him, the guy who prints out his own newsletter will always be better than me, even though he buries his leads and rambles on and on. The newsletter guy is concrete to my dad. He can pick up his paper and read it. And most of all, he agrees with it. That’s something he and I will never do.
I’ve been hesitant about sending him The Costco Connection because, until now, my stories have all been small –I was breaking in–And I don’t want him to think I’m a hack. Although he apparently likes hacks. I’ve never sent ParentMap to him either, for various reasons. I did send him What’s Up Annapolis when I worked for it. It was a big glossy magazine. He should have gotten it then, right? It doesn’t matter. The last time he was proud of me was when I graduated college, 21 years ago. I have made some peace with it. He’s never gonna change. It’s just frustrating to have this conversation over and over.
Next time I’ll change the subject.
Am I the only one? Do your parents “get” you?