Sunday, May 20, 2012

Super Dad by Lauren Bjorkman



My dad doesn’t read much non-fiction. Though novels are not his thing, he’s always been proud of my creative writing. When I finished my first story—a middle grade for girls about friendship—he read the manuscript right away. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation afterwards.

Him: Am I really like that?

Me: Huh?

Him: Am I really like the dad in the story. You know, depressed?

Me: Nooooooo!!!!

In fact, I’d created a dad opposite of him in every way—the anti-dad. I did this precisely to avoid the above conversation. And out of respect.

My dad raised me. My mom died a few weeks after my fifth birthday. From that day on, despite the many challenges, my dad took care of my sister and me. He had a few girlfriends along the way, but he was always the parent—mom and dad rolled into one.

I know my dad very well. He’s sensitive. I told myself that if I were to write a story dad that shared traits with my real dad, he would read too much into the fictional elements.

Here are the strategies I’ve employed to avoid the problem:

1. Write the anti-dad (see above)

2. Create a dad that plays a minor role (My Invented Life)

3. Write a story with three single moms (Miss Fortune Cookie)

I’ve run out of ideas. So now what? (Just kidding.)

Actually my attitude has changed. I'm feeling braver. In fact, my current project has not one but TWO dads, a step-dad and a biological dad. And BOTH of them share traits with my real dad, though they are as different as they could be. Neither one is perfect, but each is wonderful in his own way.

My dad hasn’t read it yet. When he does, I hope it makes him feel like Super Dad. Because he is.

7 comments:

  1. That's a great tribute to your Dad. I'm always afraid that people will read things into my characters too.

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  2. Awww you're dad is so stinking sweet. <3

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    1. It's so true. He's tough on the outside, and a big softie inside :-)

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  3. I go through that too--the worry that my parents will think they are the book-parents, even though I consciously avoid doing that!

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    1. Exactly. Then you have to wonder if the reverse is bad, too. I think my sister felt a little hurt that Roz and Eva were nothing like her and me.

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  4. I love to hear about a supportive dad...

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