Last week I had the following conversation with one of my 10 year old boys.
Him: Hey, Mom. I think I’m going to write about an author who wrote a Dust Bowl novel for my Oklahoma state report.
Me: Oh, buddy! You’re going to write about A Cup of Dust?
Him: Well, no. I’m going to write about Steinbeck.
Me: But…I’m your mother!
Him: Steinbeck’s more famous.
Me: Yowch! Betrayed! By my own child!
Him: Sorry. He’s just a bigger name for my report.
Now, for my kids, having a mom who writes books is normal. It’s no more exciting than having a mom who teaches or manages an office or is a nurse. In fact, they (rightfully) think moms who have those jobs are amazing!
Having a mom who writes?
It’s just regular for them.
You know what? I’m cool with that. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’m glad that they see my job as — well — just a job.
Besides, my boy is right. Steinbeck is more famous. He’s a bigger name. He won all kinds of awards and pretty much owned the bestseller lists in his day. He made bank from royalties and translations and movie deals.
I’m not as famous as Steinbeck.
And that’s all right by me.
Because I’m who I was created to be doing the work I’ve been given to do. I’m not John Steinbeck. I’m Susie Finkbeiner.
I’m a wife. A mom. A novelist. In that order.
But more than that, I’m a child of God.
Every time I THINK about this, I laugh. I hope you at least make a token appearance in his Oklahoma ABC book (I still have both Andrew’s AND Annika’s). Fourth grade is fun!
It really is an incredible project! To the boy’s credit, he did check back with me to make sure he hadn’t hurt my feelings. He’s sweet.
And what IS the difference between Steinbeck and you? I have read both. Even if I were not in your bloodline…albeit diluted…I am not deluded. Your picturesque writing far exceeds his politically motivated journalism. You delve deeply into each characters psyche while John’s “people” are rudimentary, if not incomplete. He became famous for long-winded editorials about characters, not from acclaim by folks who want novels about human individuals.
Well, you just made me tear up. Thank you for this encouragement, Ed. It means SO MUCH to me.