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A Writer’s Influences… The Influence of Family March 23, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, indie, indie publishing, Networking, promotion, self-publishing, wisps of writing wisdom, Writing.
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In the world of indie self-publishing, there’s a lot of pressure and push to constantly be on social media – to be out there blogging, tweeting, posting, and more. Without it, people forget who you are and sales go down. That’s the saying. Perhaps it’s true, because in the last few weeks I’ve been rather silent, and I’ll admit I haven’t sold anything.

There’s something bigger than that though, at least for me. I don’t live and breathe to be solely a marketing machine. My goal is to be authentic with my audience first and foremost, and if the rest falls naturally then it does. I can’t force that. I’ve been in a place of late where I’ve needed to be alone to reflect and not share myself with the world. I could keep working on filler pieces, but they would have been distant and authentic. That’s not what I’m known for and that’s not what people following me deserve.

I’m still going to leave a lot of details out, but the short version is that my grandmother passed away March 1st after starting to become rather ill literally right after Christmas last year. Her husband died unexpectedly nearly 13 years earlier on Valentine’s Day, and I lived rather distant from my mother’s parents who passed away much earlier. So really, my Dad’s parents were the only grandparents I really knew.

Even so, I didn’t meet them that I could remember until I was 10 years old. Grandpa and Grandma Muir came, along with Grandma’s mother, to Hawaii where Dad was stationed when in the Navy. They would be the ones who took that distant idea of “grandparents” I’d only ever known from books and television and make it real. When my Dad first retired, they opened their home to us as the first non-military place we ever lived for the summer while Dad registered for school at and later found us a rental home in Cheney, Washington, which would become my adopted hometown.

The years that followed consisted of many holiday visits. It’s true we ultimately did more with Grandpa than Grandma in terms of playing games and having fun. Yet I realize Grandma was the solid, quiet rock that kept things in balance. She embodied practicality when Grandpa tended to be more about having fun and adventure. That’s what made them so great.

One of the things that makes me think of my grandparents and the synergy that was always them is rhubarb pie. My grandfather loved growing rather large gardens full of so many things. Among the things he grew was rhubarb, which I’d never seen before. It would be my grandmother, an excellent cook whose food I always looked forward to, that made pies from that. It showed me how something edible but not naturally interesting to eat on its own could find an interesting identity when coming together with sugar and pie crust. Together they provided parts that made up a whole. Just like my grandparents. I still eat rhubarb pies now of course, but none of them ever quite live up.

They saw themselves that way too, as always together. Even now, in the last arrangements to come, it’s about them together in the end. This is not unlike happier times when one of them reached a birthday milestone, but the party the family organized was to celebrate “124 Years Together” adding up their years in total. That event would be our last major event together with my Uncle Pat passing away in 1999 and my Grandfather on Valentine’s Day 2000.

I’ve talked a lot of them being a pair, but Grandma went on a number of years without Grandpa. I admire her for that, quite a bit, especially when two people are such a perfect fit like that. It takes a certain strength to do that. It’s clear she had it. Yet, even in her room when I went and was able to see her last January before the end, a picture of Grandpa stayed prominently in her room. It’s always about them.

So I’ve spent the last couple weeks largely working, but also thinking a lot about the value of family and my conviction that even when our destinies drift us apart, and things don’t always turn out the way we plan, that we need to be there for one another. Members within a family may not always agree, and it should always be okay to disagree. That makes us what we are, and we need to respect each person. People may not always meet our expectations. Still, family is part of who each of us are and where we come from.

I could spend all day on the thoughts the above starts unpacking, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I didn’t want to post while things were too fresh for my family, though I’m not sure things will fully settle down for a while. I just didn’t think it appropriate to open up to the whole wide world yet.

And if that cost me book sales? Well, the world’s not all about the numbers. Life comes first.

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