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Once in a while, admitting that I’m an aspiring writer makes me feel ashamed. It doesn’t happen often; most of the time, I’m proud to own my ambitions and my hopes.  But sometimes, especially with family, I feel that my hopes are unrealistic, pipe-dreams, and that I should grow up and do something more productive with my life.

I spent last weekend in the Black Hills, where I grew up, at my parents’ home.  It was a fairly nice visit; the scenery is lovely, and the smell of the pine trees is what always comes to mind when I think of “home.”  My parents, though, while they are lovely people, are so different from me that I sometimes wonder how they managed to produce me.  They are extremely conservative, not particularly well-read, and their love of art and literature stops at Thomas Kincaid and Louis L’Amour.  It isn’t snobbery that prompts me to point this out; it’s just one of many examples of the ways in which we are different.

They asked me, over breakfast on the morning I was leaving, what my plans were for the fall.  I work part-time as a writing and ESL tutor at a state university, and I’m planning to start work on my master’s degree; I mentioned that I would be taking some classes, as well as continue to write.

My mother asked me, “Don’t you think it’s time to think about getting a full-time job?”

I said no.  I told them about the writing grants that I’m applying for, the magazines and journals that I’m sending stories to, and I talked a little about my unfinished novel.  I said that as long as working part-time was adequate, along with my husband’s salary, that I would continue to write as much as I could.

My father told me it was time for me to grow up, to stop putting such a heavy burden on my husband’s shoulders.  My sister, who had stayed out of the conversation until then, nodded, and said that her ex-husband would never have let her take advantage of him like that.

I didn’t know how to reply.  So I left the room, and went into the woods with my notebook and my pen.

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