Today would have been my baby sister Carol’s 55th birthday. She died two years ago of liver cancer. Carol was one of my cheerleaders. Writers are always advised to not rely on family to critique our books because their opinion is tainted by their love for us. That’s so true. But as I think about my sister, I know the void in my writing world without her.
She read the first draft of my first novel and gave me an honest opinion. She loved it but knew it still needed work. As I work on my second novel, I wish she were around to read it and give me her thoughts on it, as well.
While we do need honest critiques and real help from our writing community, we still need cheerleaders. Family and friends buoy us up when we are ready to quit this writer’s life madness and go do something more fun.
My mother saved every article I wrote when I was a columnist for the Beacon News. She kept them in a scrapbook. Recently, she gave me that scrapbook along with some children’s magazines I had written for. All of these words dated back decades. It felt strange to see my work treasured like an elementary student’s special awards and artwork.
My other sister, Linda, also read my first draft and shared it with a friend at work. They read when they should have been working. She gave me information about horses from her years of experience riding, roping and cleaning stalls. Her praise of my descriptions was priceless.
They keep the fire from dying
Carol would ask how my writing was going, and when I’d quit writing for a decade my mother would always say, “You were really good.” Then she’d joke. “You should write a book about me; it would be a best seller.”
When I finally heard God nudge me back to my calling, it was family that inquired about my progress.
Yes, our family and friends can also be our greatest naysayers when we don’t give them our undivided attention because of deadlines. But they are the first to buy our books and brag to their friends about us. They are our best marketers.
So, as I look back on times gone by with my baby sister—all the fun, fights and frustrations—I’ll always be grateful for her support of me and belief in me as a writer.
Who in your family is your biggest fan? I’d love to hear about them.
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