Blood Isn’t Thicker Than Ink
By Sean C. Wright-Neeley
Family and friends attend gender reveal parties, barbecues; heck, even divorce parties, but rarely attend my book signings. They buy a celebrity’s perfume or sneakers, but refuse to buy my much-less expensive books. Mentioning that I am working on a new story elicits about as much excitement as mentioning that I am changing my hairstyle.
Getting little support from strangers is to be expected when you’re an author. You can’t write in a genre everyone loves. And how else will you get truly unbiased book reviews if it weren’t for strangers, reading your work? But I was always starry-eyed about family and friends supporting my career. Granted, it’s a creative career (unless you’re strictly a technical writer). It falls into the same category as a musician or artist. Somehow, somewhere, someone will always sneer, “Get a real job.”
But I was surprised by family’s indifference – and people I consider family – about my becoming an author.
The apathy is one thing. The apathy, coupled with using my talents at their convenience is another. Friends and family I haven’t heard from in ages suddenly pop up, wanting me to help them write a book, help their children with English papers, write or edit formal documents, and so on. Many times (clutch the pearls), pro bono. Once the hurt subsided to disappointment, and I got my bearings, I analyzed this phenomenon. Here’s is what my sleuthing and unpacking turned up:
I’m not alone. In my peeling back the layers of this particularly baffling onion, I was relieved to discover that I was not alone. I can’t take this personally. In speaking with fellow authors, I found that this phenomenon runs through families and circles of friends like a vicious virus. Stacy (not her real name), says, “My parents are my worst critics, which is why I don’t listen to them anymore. Life is too short to allow people that much control over my happiness.”
How right she is. I have learned to ignore the haters – even if we have common DNA. And there is a silver lining to this situation. I’ve discovered that sometimes the cult following you create from your supporters becomes a new family. I have met some really neat people who read my books; people who were notold friends, acquaintances, or blood relatives. I show my appreciation for their appreciation with free advanced copies on occasions, alert them about giveaways I do with my books, or gift them with other personal author paraphernalia. Yes, home is where the heart is, and family is where the love is.
The green-eyed monster applies here, too. I thought about how frosty some friends and family could be, concerning my writing, and I also realized what underlying emotion may be present: envy. Those very same people who don’t support my writing career are often the very same ones who wish to become authors themselves. Let me rephrase that: They want to become authors, but don’t want to go on the hellacious journey. Said people see the finished product and book sales, but won’t entertain horrible first drafts, sleepless nights while novel-writing, and rejection letters. Nor do they care to. It’s the opposite of living vicariously through someone. If he or she can’t produce a book, they will not support anyone he or she knows who canproduce a book.
Some envious people don’t covet a writing career at all. They simply resent anyone else’s accomplishments. It’s another thing that I can’t take personally.
Not all support is monetary. Yes, book sales are sweet. But they are not the only way people you know and those related to you lend support. They can donate time. You’ve often heard the expression “time is money.” Well, I’ve found this proves it. People I know may not buy my books, but they share my book links on social media, email people about them, and so on. It’s a loving domino effect. A tweet about my book will eventually result in book sales, so will their encouraging people in their circles to read my books over coffee or brunch. Some gladly read review copies of my books and give honest feedback. They are indirectly showing their pride in their friend or relative. Exposure is still love and support.
While I still wish family and friends were a huge part of my book sales and book signing attendance numbers, I came to realize – slowly but surely, and with a few frowns, pouts, and tears – that it’s not solely a “Sean problem.” It’s just another not-so-pretty aspect of an author’s life, mixed in with writer’s block and unfavorable reviews. No matter which family and friends support me, writing is my family too, as I mentioned above. We’re spouses, I like to think. I chose writing, and it chose me. And like a married couple, even though we don’t always like each other, we still love each other unconditionally.
I’m pleased to announce the release of my 8th book, Skoll’s Diary.
Africans and African Americans left Earth in 1900, and went to another planet in The Milky Way to escape mistreatment…
It’s now the year 3005 on that terraformed planet. We get a peek into the life of a bright and sensitive teenaged boy, Skoll, through his journal. He loves his world, but is curious about life on Earth. Then suddenly, an epic event casts him in the middle of a difficult decision. The fate of the planet’s community is in his hands.
Get the book here. I’d appreciate your leaving a review if you read it. Thanks in advance!