Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Writer in the Family

I've been writing this blog for three years, so most of you know that I have a teen-aged son who goes to my alma mater, the Bronx High school of Science, where he's been an active member of the robotics team. He's been building robots since he was 5, so I assumed he would become an engineer. He thought he would too, until he started writing.

My son also loves science fiction, and fantasy, and to my joy, horror (you all know that my heart belongs to horror?). I was overjoyed when he came home form camp one year and told me that 1984 was his favorite book (it's at the top of my list too). I attend the World Fantasy Convention almost every year, as well as NeCon, a small horror and dark fantasy writers' con in Rhode Island every summer. And every year I ask my son if he wants to go with me, and every year he says no, as though the thought of hanging out with his mother and her old horror-writing friends is worse than sitting through a My Little Pony marathon. So, two years ago I didn't even ask him if he wanted to go. And, of course, he asked me if he could.

I was shocked. "Why would you want to go to a writers con?" I asked.

"Because I'm working on my novel." Now, I knew he was "writing," but I figured he was "writing" like most other 15 year olds.

"How many pages have you written?" I asked

"Two hundred twenty of about 400," he answered.

And I was shocked again, because I really had no idea just how bitten by the bug he had been.

He went to NeCon, where he not only held his own, but did a horror/fantasy stand up routine that will live on in NeCon history forever, as well as made a whole bunch of his own friends (meaning separate from mine).

He went on to write a 550 page first draft of a dystopian urban fantasy, which I refused to read. (agents should never represent family, and parents in the publishing business should never give their writer kids the slightest reason to not write). I paired him up with two of my oldest friends who are writers, who guided him though the writing and rewriting process. The only advice I gave him (and not on purpose) was he heard me telling another writer that a fantasy novel in today's market has to come in at about 300 pages, so he rewrote his book into two separate novels.

Meanwhile he was also playing World of Warcraft religiously and moderating a whole bunch of WOW sites. He eventually became the co-host of a WOW podcast, and met his colleagues from the station in Anaheim last year for the WOW convention. Heady stuff for a 16 year-old.

I was proud of him, but still thought he would go into engineering.

Then we started the college application process. We had been thinking MIT, John Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, RIT as a safe.

He told me that maybe he didn't want to major in engineering, since he was doing so much writing. I said, "no prob. Just double major," thinking I had everything under control.

About three weeks before all the applications were due, he said, "I think I want to major in English."

I took to my bed and wished I had smelling salts.

I said to myself, "what's he going to do for a living?"

And then I realized, what do I do for a living?

So I told him he could get that English degree, if he considered becoming an agent when he graduated. He emailed all his comic book and gaming friends and asked if they thought they'd need agents in the future, and they all said, "we need one now," so we know where he's heading in the near future.

And this weekend we learned that he sold his first short story to an anthology published by one of the major NY houses!

It's kind of amazing, because I didn't see it coming, although everyone else I know says it was written on the wall. I just never turned around to read it. Duh!


weeghosties said...

Congratulations on the sale for your son and to you for being such a great supportive mom!

Tami said...

Congratulations to your son! And, just in case he knows me, tell him Vonya says hello.

(I wrote a WoW blog called The Egotistical Priest for a while. He might recognize the name.)

Leigh M. Lane said...

You must be so proud!

ryan field said...

You know I've been following this blog since you started writing it, and I had a feeling about him becoming a writer. And then I saw how well he wrote his own blog posts. They were very good. It's in the genes :)

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

Congratulations for him.
You must be very proud. He sounds great.

Unknown said...

This is the greatest story! Congratulations to your son and to you, too. I'm just so excited for you both. I hope you'll tell us the Anthology name so we can read his work.

Kwana said...

Big congratulations to your son and be very proud mom! You are doing a fab job. I've got a couple of juniors. Getting the smelling salts ready.

Rebecca Leigh said...

Congrats -- he sounds like he is heading in the right direction!

Kristi said...

Congratulations to your son!

What a very motivated young man...amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...


It's wonderful and scary when the kids begin their twists and turns in life.

Has your son considered science writing as a way of combining his strengths? Perhaps as a supplemental skill to fiction writing? I know journalism and publishing use to cry out for multi-disciplined writers (lit/journalism majors who minored in the sciences, economics, business, sports).

Regardless, congrats on your son's successes! It's going to make the college search exciting!

Vonna said...

That is stunning, scary and thrilling. You sound like a wise parent.

LM Preston said...

That's an amazing story!!! Hopefully I'll see you both at Balticon this year - he can check me out at the World Building workshop :-) Maybe he can teach me a thing or two.

5 Kids With Disabilities said...

Wow! Like mother like son! He's starting out young and should be famous by the time he's 18!!!!
Lindsey Petersen

Uninvoked said...

I'm really proud of your son...for sneaking advice from you even when you said you wouldn't give it. That's hard to do! ;-)

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Woo Hoo! You must be proud. :D
My teenage daughter just dropped out of high school and is pursuing a career in the newspaper business, but unfortunately she's just folding them on Sunday mornings. :(
Well, I've got two more where she came from. :p

Marshall said...

Very cool! I'm on the Bronx Science Alumni Association Board--perhaps we should feature you and your son in the Alumni News? If you'd like, please email your class years and contact info to me at Thanks.

Marshall Jaffe, Class of '77

Dana Fredsti said...

That's fantastic! The sale and his future career...

Tiia Jones said...

Isn't it amazing how our children somehow morph into beings with personalities and talents independent from us? Hopefully, as in your case, we have a hand in shaping this. Don't feel badly. Writing may be a bit difficult and thankless, but it is important!


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