By Shawn Smucker
I am in bed and I decide to warn him against it, to encourage writing as a hobby but not as a passion, not as a means for making a life.
Yes, that’s what I’ll tell him.
I walk down the stairs and the boards are creaking but he has his earbuds in so I stand at the bottom of the stairs and consider the best way to break this news to him, that writing is no way to spend your days. I watch him as he wrestles with this character or that scene or this conflict. I recognize the hum of a new idea, the speed of his fingers on the keys, the aura of confidence that glows like his computer screen.
And I can’t move towards him, I can’t warn him away from this writing thing, because seeing it from the outside, seeing him writing, I am reminded of all the things that writing has given me. The relief from inner turmoil. An outlet for anger or love or hate or confusion or longing.
A life. That’s what it is. Writing has given me a life.
I do not turn around, but I take one step back up the steps, still facing my son. And another. And another. He catches my movement in the corner of his eye. He pulls one earbud out and looks at me expectantly, as if I have something to tell him.
But I wave him off.
“Nothing, buddy. Keep writing.”
Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at www.shawnsmucker.com