The two events both occurred this past Christmas Eve in which I spent time with my niece and nephews while their father was at home on his roof—with a chain saw and a tree that he felt was getting in the way of his giant inflatable Santa—and their mother was holding the ladder.
My oldest nephew, who's out of college and starting his own business, asked me why I gave up a career with pay for writing stories with, you know, nothing in return. It was nice to be asked. For me, the answer was simple. "I write because I can't not do it."
His sister is more like me, but she's determined to make herself stick with a course of studies that will provide a secure career. Me, bad aunt, suggested it was better to follow her passion even it meant that she would "only" be happy, but not financially secure. Good thing their parents weren't there.
The way this relates to the law is that it was their father who taught me how to break it, literally. I was fourteen at the time and he was nineteen. We were living in the middle of nowhere on an island (and that's all you need to know for now). He found some abandoned buildings up the road and was curious about what was behind one of the locked doors. He kept kicking and kicking the door, but it wouldn't budge. Then, voila! He figured out the secret.
"You have to kick all the way through," he told me, "like you know you're going to succeed."
Me—when I lived on an island that shall not be named
Writing is like a locked door that I can't just pound on here and there. I have to give it everything I've got in order for it to fall into place. Not only that, but it takes going outside the parameters of what is acceptable and responsible. At some point, it's important to stop caring about the right thing to do and break down the door like I know it will give way. It's different for everyone, but this is how it is for me.
The other thing that triggered my thinking about laws and writing was later in the evening when my nephew found a picture of me at a bill signing. He wanted to know why I was in a picture with the old governor and the new one (when she was Attorney General for the state). I told him it was the signing of an anti-bullying bill—years ago, when it wasn't at all easy to be against bullying. The bill had taken the prime sponsor many years to push through a lot of resistance.
It made me realize how writing is a lot like creating laws:
- If it's really good, it will take years to succeed.
- There will always be people who don't like what you come up with.
- They may even not like you. A lot.
- You will have to create something that does not exist, in an environment that does not want it to survive.
- You need the right people to agree with your idea.
- The more people who agree, however, the worse your idea probably is. Best to try something else.
- In the end, the most you may get is a pen and your dignity.
- You will do it again.
Bill signing for Anti-Bullying Law
(That's me in the back row—toward the left—heh)