Darla has started writing short stories. They're plotless, directionless, and absolutely amazing. Her most recent work is a little book called "The Incomplete History of Love." Rather than give a rundown of love in prehistoric times, the origin story of Cupid, or the first romantic stanza that was ever written, she writes what love is. She talks about how amazing love is and how happy it makes her. Although she doesn't give a single fact, hers really is the complete history of love because love has no history. It's ever-present and indescribable; she really captured the essence of love. And at the end, she wrote: "to learn more about Love go to www.storytellinggroup.org." I did want to learn more about love, so I went to the domain and there was nothing there. Even that misdirect was masterful.
I believe Darla knows that her writing makes me more enthusiastic than anything. If she ever decided to join a sports team, which seems highly unlikely at this point, I wouldn't be able to muster a fraction of the enthusiasm I do for her stories. And this facts makes me wonder if I'm painting her into a corner. If she sees me stoked about her writing, will this make her want to write more just to get a positive reaction out of me? Is that such a bad thing?
My dad was the same way with my writing. Although I think I'm a better parent than he was, one of the positive things about our relationship was how supportive he was of my writing. I wrote my first play in second grade about Thanksgiving, which is a fact I constantly reference. In fact, I've probably written about this at least a couple times here. It was the height of my writing career and I feel like everything I have done since then has been in service of chasing this high. You can forgive me for beating that dead horse since that play was really good. After I wrote that play, my dad labeled me the family "writer." It was something he talked about when we were ever alone, which was thankfully infrequent. He talked about it my entire life.
Even when I went years without writing anything, my dad would talk about how great my writing was. His praise was so frequent and persistent, that I suspected it contained overtones of sarcasm. I was skeptical of his kudos, but they did instill in me a confidence that I could actually write, so I wrote. Looking back, it's hard to say what came first: my love of writing or my dad's love of me as a writer. Regardless, I've spent a good portion of my life writing, whether it's a fool's errand or not.
When I get amped about Darla's stories, I see her face light up and her wheels spin. It seems in these moments she's imagining the next story she could write that will illicit the same kind of reaction from me. I can't help my response and I'm excited to read more of her writing, but I wonder if I should spread this excitement around a little more. Maybe I will usher her towards writing and that's not what she wants at all. Lord knows I'm not swimming in money I earned from it, so that might not the best career choice. Maybe I should just cheer for everything she does regardless, even if it does eventually mean I have to get really enthusiastic about softball or basketball.