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Second-generation writers and pride

September 27, 2013

I haven’t been published (yet), so I don’t know what it feels like to hold my newborn book in my hands. I do know what it feels like to hold a newborn human being in my hands–something I’ve done twice. Being a man, and a manly man at that, I didn’t cry when I held my children in my hands. But it was amazing that a hospital in Northern Virginia and a different hospital in Illinois both had such horrible ventilation systems that the allergens in the air made my eyes water.

From their first steps to their first day of school and beyond, your kids–if you have them–are an immense and unending source of pride. For a writer, that pride is extended when they write, like to write, and write well.

My daughter has recently started a study-abroad program in South Africa. Personally, if I were going to study abroad, it would be in Hawaii (I know it’s a state, but there’s a lot of ocean between here and there, and that’s abroad). But she chose South Africa, and has a passion for the area, the culture, and the health-care services available there.

Huberta, South Africa’s original wandering hippo

I know that from listening to her–and from reading her blog. As I write this, she left a little less than a week ago, and she’s written a blog about her experiences so far. The blog is called the Wandering Hippo–not because she’s even remotely hippo-like. In her research, she found a story about a famous hippo that once wandered South Africa, and the hippo is an unofficial mascot of George Washington University, where she attends college. It’s the perfect name.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, my daughter is a better writer than I am. I knew this when she wrote a short story in middle school and naturally did things that I have to work at. My son is a burgeoning literary genius, too. He’s the sports editor of his high school newspaper in his sophomore year. When I was in high school, I could construct sentences perfectly well, but the tone and content shouted out “not yet graduated, still in high school.” In his writing, there’s a certain maturity that outpaces his actual age.

Before long, I will be the third-best writer in my family. There was a time when that would have angered me. Instead, it fills me with pride.

If you’re a parent and you write when you think you should be spending time with your kids, you might be right. Or you might be working at a craft that they’ll eventually take up and use to add color to their lives and the lives of others.

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