“When are you going to write a book so you can buy me a Cadillac?”
With a smile, my dad has asked me this question numerous times. Usually I look at him in bewilderment, because my dream to be a published author is a scary one. Yet, my dad has always believed in my love for words.
When I was little, he used to take me to the public library. I wandered around the Children’s Room, looking for biographies and American Doll books. My small knees were on the carpet as I explored the shelves. My hands chose a stack of books. Dad and I walked to the checkout counter, with our stacks. For me, books were gifts.
During my elementary school recess times, I opened the wonderful presents. With my back against the fence, I consumed every detail about Lucille Ball or about the fictional Addy, an African American girl who lived during slavery days.
As I attended church with my parents, I was encouraged to read my own words at special services. While I was grateful for positive feedback from congregants, I wanted to hear my dad’s critique. He would say, “That was beautiful.” My words were beautiful, because my Daddy said so.
When I entered college, I became involved in a struggle of comparison. My writing didn’t sound like my peers. My poetry wasn’t the “cool” and “fast” spoken word that I heard at performances. Since my dad was an hour away, he couldn’t easily sit in the crowd. I had to reassure myself that I had my own style.
“I don’t know what to write.”
I make this statement to my dad now. I graduated college seven years ago, and I am currently in a graduate social work program. Often, I’m riddled by perfectionism when I have to write a paper for school or for a church service. I start typing words and then I erase them. Despite my nearby tantrum, my dad informs me, “You’ll figure out what to write.” There’s no long spiel, but a short line of his confidence in me.
In the future, I pray that I will see my name on the cover of a published book. I want readers to be edified by my words. With my earnings, I plan to buy my mom and dad a house. And my dad, the cheerleader, will get his red Cadillac.