the “artist” and its mother

I don’t do very much creative writing, although in theory I wish I did. But recently, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I wrote a short story. Fun fun fun.

For some reason, I decided to share this story with my mother. Why not? I thought. How weird, that I am in this habit of never sharing my writing with my mother! Yes, very strange indeed.

Indeed, indeed.

The mother in question professed great excitement about reading the story, and apparently went immediately to her email and blasted through the whole thing in half an hour. I had told her that the story was inspired by a particular news issue (which it was–entirely).Let me also say here it is not a particularly happy story, and the characters in it do some nasty things.

She called me up. “I see what you mean, of course, that it was inspired by [news issue]. I mean, that was obvious. But more than anything, I saw how it was actually about our family. Your father, me, your brother and sister… Wow.”

Hmm. Well. Here’s the thing: no, it wasn’t. It really, really wasn’t about my family at all. But that’s ok. There is no arguing with my mother.

Then I remembered one of the last times I shared some of my creative writing with my mother.

Twelve years ago, when I was fifteen years old, I got a poem published in my high school literary magazine (woohoo! quelle excitement, etc). It was called “Mother,” and was a 15-year-old’s rather stale take on the Virgin Mary’s role in the Catholic faith, with all the requisite budding atheist’s flowery invectives against organized religion, mass opiates, etc. Most of the poem was reflecting on a cathedral carving of the Virgin.

My mother was in an amateur theater group at the time, and brought me along to a fundraiser open mic night, where I read my poem.

On the way home in the car, she started to cry. “My feelings are really hurt,” she said. “I can’t believe you got up in front of people and called me a stone-cold statue.”

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5 Responses to the “artist” and its mother

  1. Oh god–a few months ago, my mom asked me to send her my in-progress novel. In twenty six and a half years, I’ve only known her to read four books. But worse: the mother character in my book is a raging narcissist.

    I acted like I was still and teenager and made some noncommittal grunting noises. She still sounded hurt, le sigh.

    You are a brave woman!

  2. Karissa says:


    this is why i don’t send my parents ANYTHING i write, although once they know i’ve gotten something published, apparently they google me and find it anyway, to my great embarrassment and chagrin.

  3. Karissa–hahaha. Have they found ALL of your stories…?

  4. Melina says:

    My mother is constantly telling me she doesn’t want to recognize herself in my stories. I’ve had exactly one short story published ever in my life, and in blind excitement sent my mother a copy of the little book it was in. My mother is convinced she is the cab driver in this story. The cab driver in the story is based almost word for word on a man who drove me to the airport once in Nashville, TN. Argh.

  5. Wisteria789 says:

    Though, in defense of your mother, I’ve totally had those moments too. Your friend tells you a story about this crazy, curly-haired, person on the subway who is asking everyone else for a hug, and you think, wow.

    My friend is obviously trying to tell me I’m way too clingy.

    It’s a nice way to wrap up our neurotic and self-centered selves in a neat package. With a bow.

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