Thursday, August 6, 2020

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

At your funeral, everyone talked about how you had been a social worker for twenty-five years or something like that. 
A quick inventory of my life felt like I was months from 33 and had accomplished nothing. I didn't change anything. I wasn't ready.
New Year's Eve I had a huge fight with Emil. It struck me that not only was I thirty-three with no accomplishments, but if I ever got divorced, I wouldn't be able to support ELF. You told me to get a teaching license in college. I didn't listen. I generally thought if you said something I should do the opposite. So, I set out to get a teaching license. It was difficult since I'd already failed once.
On the one year anniversary of your death, I took the P.P.E. 
I think I missed two questions. Emil and I agreed I would student teach, because it's the quickest path to the license, and I got laid off trying this the first time.
I finished student teaching in December, and my goal was the be in my own classroom on the second anniversary of your death.
I wasn't. 
COVID19 happened. Schools closed for the year. I hadn't found a job yet, and Emil didn't want me to come in contact with a hundred and twenty kids a day.
I decided since I had to have some time at home I'd check out freelance writing. Someone posted for a fiction intern. I applied not expecting to get the gig. (I know how the writing world works. You never get the gig.) But a few questions on the application struck me: 
How long have you been writing fiction? Ten years. 
What awards or honors have you received for writing? I have a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. A Missing Peace was published by Harlequin Escape in 2013 and His First Lady was published by Limitless Publishing in 2019. I've self published a couple of novellas and two of my editing clients were USA Today Bestsellers.
Wow. I had accomplished things. Just not the kind of things you get paid for, and I had spent ten years of my life doing something. 
A surprise came. I got the gig. I'm making about fifteen hundred dollars a month writing from home. I know it's nothing but I couldn't be working full time right now anyhow. And I think it can grow.
I remember the weekend before you died, you told me I was just writing the wrong thing. I wasn't. I still write romance. I was writing for the wrong audience? As soon as I shifted from original fiction to ghostwriting I noticed a change. (But I'm almost afraid to publish this, because the truth of the writing world is luck can change at anytime.)
But for now I think I'm okay. I may even be able to make this work. I wish you hadn't left me, and I'm sorry I fought with you for all those years. 
I hope we see each other again, but I'm not sure. I've lost my faith in the struggle.
I love you, Mom.