Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mom says "There were many untruths"

So, shall we discuss family reactions to published writings? Talk about rejection! I just got back from a visit to my family's homestead. Boy, did I ever get an earful. The funny thing is that their big complaint is not even about anything very important or primary to the piece.  It's my view on guns that pisses them off. They want to quibble about details, like did my father ever really give me a gun, and if so, why did they never see a rifle wrapped up under the Christmas tree with my name on it.  (In fact, he'd taken me out shooting and tried to give me the rifle then, but I refused to take it...can I help it that my mother wasn't there as a witness. No one was there. But does that mean it didn't happen or that I am a liar?)  Also, they say that anyone walking into our house would not have known there were guns in the house, that my father locked his office where the rifle display cabinets were, keeping it closed, and that the guns in the closets and under the beds were upstairs where no one went. But does this mean that they were not still there? My point was that those of us who lived there (hello?) knew there were guns in the house. My father used to shoot out the window at squirrels....and we lived in the thickly settled suburbs. (The neighbors used to complain because they had little kids and my friggin' Dad was shooting out the bedroom windows.) I think it's my brother's NRA-point that's influencing the complaint. In his opinion, we lived in a gun-responsible house; guns were not lying around! My point is, holy crap, there are guns everywhere in this joint! Anyway, the thing about families is that they will focus on the little things so they can say your writing is a lie, in order to ignore the big things.  Like, how about:  "Wow it really sucks what happened to you." Or "I never realized how painful this whole disinheritance thing must have been for you. I'm sorry, dude."
    What I learned this weekend is that it's hard for them to understand that everyone in that house was a separate person with a separate opinion and a separate experience and a separate perspective. That's practically a revolutionary idea to them. Write up one of those perspectives and put it in a prominent publication, and you are practically the one holding the gun all of a sudden. I guess that's what they don't like.  As Alice Walker says, "I am a girl, so I do not get a gun."  (Also the epigraph in my first published book.)
    In other news, some interest in the book proposal with a phone call being scheduled this week and some additional sample chapters being sent around. I will keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

I pictured you slightly taller. : -)

. said...

Your case of being wilfully disinherited is quite unique, but if it helps you feel less alone, "accidental" disinheritance is more common.

My mother and her siblings were all disinherited when her father passed. My grandfather divorced my grandmother to marry another woman who had kids of her own. When my grandfather died, all of his estate passed to the other woman because he failed to make any provisions for his natural children. (The other woman probably had a hand in that.) When the woman passed, everything went to her children. A lawyer told me this happens all the time when spouses own everything jointly.

When my father's parents died, there weren't any assets to inherit because they were so poor.

So, there are lots of people out there getting zip, zero, zilch from the passing of their parents.

It would be ironic if your mother left everything to you when she goes.

Nancy Natale said...

Not for anything, but why do you keep going back to that shithouse (or equivalent)? You know the reception you will get and that their opinions run contrary to those of most rational and/or sensitive people. The hell with them. Let them pick on someone else. You don't need them to keep knocking you down. Just tell them you are disinheriting them of your presence.

Anonymous said...


Let's let W,R run his/her own life. S/he seems to be doing a good job of it, after all (I mean, a piece in the Times?!)

And, hey, do you realize that even though you are ostensibly trying to be supportive, you're basically badmouthing his/her family (people you have never met except through stories)? How is that okay? W,R must care about these folks, otherwise why would s/he even write such a story?

In fact, the nature of your comment runs counter to the post itself, which seems to be about trying for once to see from someone else's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Welcome to the world of memoir and non-fiction, I guess, where what really happened is apparently up for grabs. I for one am looking forward to reading your story. And cripes Nancy, your family's your family and it's possible to still love them even if they drive you apeshit.

Linda Zinnen said...

"your family's your family and it's possible to still love them even if they drive you apeshit."

I'm pretty sure that's the reason God gave us families. They drive us apeshit, we're turds back at 'em.

It's magical.