Julia Spencer-Fleming: Laura DiSilverio has a pretty high profile in the mystery world. She's the author of ten mystery novels, including the Mall Cop series for Berkley Prime Crime and the Swift Investigations humorous PI series for Minotaur. She teaches for MWA’s Mystery University, and serves as Vice-President of the National Board of Sisters in Crime (where our own Hank Phillippi Ryan is President!)
But it wasn't until I met Laura in person that I realized how much we have in common. We're both Air Force brats. Like my husband Ross, the USAF was Laura's first career - she was an intelligence officer. We both left practical jobs to try our hand at writing and spend more time mothering. And, most significantly at this point in our lives, we're both dealing with teens and preteens at home. Which is why, when Laura said, "I want to write about the
ridiculous ideas lofty goals my kids have for the future," I knew we had to have her here at JRW.
My older daughter, 15, is planning for a career on Broadway. She takes voice and dance (musical theater and tap), sings with the school choir, performs in school plays, and spent six weeks this past summer working nine to five every day with the youth rep company she auditioned for last March. Her father and I watch all this with a certain degree of—shall we say?—trepidation.
We’re worried for her, that she’s aiming for a career where .0004 percent of the people who try to make it succeed (okay, I made that figure up, but I doubt it’s far off—it might even be generous), and she’s bound to meet with soul-eroding rejection while living on Ramen noodles, selling her blood plasma, and sharing a studio apartment with six roommates of dubious hygiene habits and countless cockroaches.
We’re worried for us, that we’ll empty our retirement funds to support her in NYC and she’ll return home at thirty, disillusioned and worn down, trashing her chances for more conventional employment by quoting Lady MacBeth at job interviews, and making it impossible for hubby and me to continue with our plan of getting frisky in every room of the house whenever we want and as loudly as we want once we’re empty nesters.
Daughter the younger, newly turned 13, plans to attend Stanford on a volleyball scholarship, study engineering and architecture, and become both an architect and an Indian fast food restaurant billionaire. (She has long lamented that there are no fast food joints that serve Indian food and she’s planning to fill that gap.) This might all be more likely if she was taller than 5’3” since the average Stanford volleyballer looks to be about 6’3”. We don’t squelch this dream too hard because she’s got a decent shot at getting into Stanford on an academic scholarship and we’re in favor of the whole billionaire thing since she says she’ll support us.
The Parenting Dilemma
The parenting question we struggle with is this: How do you encourage kids to dream and follow their passions, and yet inject enough sanity into the process that they’re prepared to cope with failure and know when it’s time to try something else? Don’t look at me for the answer, ’cause I got nothin’, although I have been known to extol the benefits of a career as an actuary, mortician or IT specialist with benefits. If you’ve got good parenting advice on this topic, bring it on.
This all made me think about having the courage to follow our dreams and passions, even the little ones. I spent twenty years in the Air Force, dreaming of being a novelist, and now that’s how I make my living. (Okay, it’s not much of a living. If I didn’t have a pension and a hubby with a good job, my children would be dreaming of secure careers as Wal-Mart greeters, rather than of Broadway, but if I were single I’d be able to afford Spam with my ramen noodles once a week.) I’m still working on my dreams of visiting every continent and learning to ballroom dance.
What about you? What dreams, seemingly ridiculous or hard to achieve, large or small, have you taken a stab at? Going blond? Getting a college degree? Climbing a mountain? Playing an instrument or learning a language? Pursuing a particular career? Are you glad you tried it or do you regret the time and effort you invested?
Rev up those dreams, leave a comment and get a chance to win an Advance Reader Copy of Laura’s upcoming release, SWIFT RUN, or a copy of the book when it releases on 27 November! As a fun bonus, check out the Minotaur Art blog, where art director David Rotstein shows us sketch by sketch how his team came up with SWIFT RUN's amusing cover.
Laura's also offering a chance to win an iPod Nano by commenting on an entry in the Courageous Moment essay contest on her blog, The Year of Living Courageously, between now and 14 November.