You know you’ve read them before. Maybe you’ve even written them. That part of the acknowledgements where the author thanks their (husband/children/family/dog/goldfish) for living abandoned lives while they slaved over their book. They come in all different forms, and varying degrees of absurdity.
“Thank you to my ever-supportive family, surviving without me these many months and encouraging me all along the way.”
“Thank you, Jacques, for keeping the home fires burning whilst I locked myself in my office for every evening of 2012.”
“Thank you, my loving family of twelve, for not complaining through thirty-thousand frozen pizzas so that I could focus on my work.”
“Thank you, Percival. Thank you for coming home and jumping into the apron each night to cook, clean, and hold our family together as I pursued my dream.”
“Thank you to my seven-year-old, Wilhelmina Florence, who dutifully cooked macaroni and cheese for her siblings every night for the past eighteen months.”
Somehow I doubt that anyone ever intended on abandoning their family. But writing seems to me to quickly become one of those all-consuming passions.
You write a little, then think to yourself one day, “Hey, I ain’t so bad at this gig,” and then you write some more. That pedestal in your mind (you know, the one with the neon sign atop reading ‘AUTHOR’) starts to crumble as you churn out fifty thousand words of passable English and realize that authors are just those who do it. They don’t have to be celebrities. In fact, they once weren’t and maybe never will be. But they’ve put pen to paper long enough, with enough fervor and zeal to produce some measure of confidence, that somewhere along the line, they started calling themselves authors, possibly even Authors.
Maybe you start reading about publishing and get the feeling that it isn’t the impossible dream. Maybe you begin to think that anyone–even you–can get there with enough passion and commitment. And then you’re on the downhill side of a very icy slope.
This is about the time that you start writing, or reading about writing, or editing your writing, or exercising your writing muscles, or even staring at a blank page wishing you were writing, at the most inopportune of times. Your kids, the ones that are so excited that you are pursuing such a cool dream, start walking by unnoticed, resigned to entertain themselves for yet another evening. Eyeing you silently to see if there might be a chance you’d like to play a game with them.
They’re so supportive. They don’t want to interrupt. “Mom, do you think maybe, if you have time soon, you could read me a book before bed? If there’s time, I mean?”
Those words, right there, were the words that, thankfully, slapped me in the face. They reminded me of what I said to my husband when I set out on this road. I don’t want to ever have to print that kind of a thank you in my book. If I can’t attain any measure of success in this writing life without compromising my family, then I don’t want success.
Pursuing a career as a writer obviously takes sacrifices. Life changes with every decision we make, and a decision to become a professional at anything is going to take some serious effort and time. But, for me anyway, it isn’t a do or die situation. Thank God for that.
So it will wait. Writing will have to take its rightful place a little farther down the priorities list than the top three, or even four, and when the day comes that I am faced with crafting my own acknowledgements page, I pray that I will be proud of every word I write.