Last year, I shared a post about the lessons I’ve learned from my mother and how they inspire my writing. Today, I’d like to honor my other greatest role model with the most important lessons he’s taught me and how I apply them to my fiction. My family has played a large role in my life choices as well as my creativity, and much of that is thanks to the wisest man I know: my father!
So this week, I’d like to dedicate my creative writing post to the man who lovingly raised me by sharing three of my favorite lessons from him that inspire my stories. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration, Dad!
1) Real men respect women.
There’s a lot of debate around the question of what constitutes “being a man”. Some people measure masculinity through physical strength, others through intelligence or courage, and still others through power or wealth. Many even claim that the only requirement to make a man is a Y chromosome. My dad, however, seems to have his own idea of what it means to be a man. He’s not a big fan of sports (unless you count the tennis game in Wii Sports), he values wisdom coming from anyone, and he considers people who show off their wealth petty and obnoxious. In truth, the only men I’ve ever heard him call “not real men” are those accused of mistreating women.
If I learned anything from my dad, it’s that a real man knows his worth shouldn’t be measured by the power he can exert over women, but by how well he thrives when on equal footing with them. My whole life, my father was the only man in the house (even most of our pets were female!), yet from the respectful way he always treated his wife and daughters, I know any brothers I might have had growing up would be just as chivalrous today. That’s why the male heroes in my stories are always gentlemen who treat their female peers as equals and never look down on them in any way (the same can’t always be said for the villains). It’s a lesson my dad has been teaching me for as long as I can remember, and one I continue to work into my fiction to this day. If I expect to be treated decently by the men in my life, my heroines must demand no less from the men in theirs!
2) Whatever you do in life, strive to be happy.
One piece of advice my dad always gave me and my sisters was to “be happy”. That may sound vague, but what he really meant was that we should always make choices that lead to a positive and fulfilling life, in every possible aspect. Pursue a career in something you love doing. Marry a person – not “man”, “person” – who loves and respects you. Avoid people and situations that make you miserable. Tackle the problems you can solve and let go of the ones you can’t. In a nutshell, every decision must be made with a single clear goal in mind: being a happier person.
So I’ve tried to make choices that benefit my happiness. I’ve pursued writing and science because I love both. I’m in a relationship with someone who makes me laugh and who treats me like royalty. I work hard for the things I want and try to get past the things that make me unhappy (hard as it is much of the time). And I apply the same lesson to my stories: I give my characters clear ideas of what they want in life and the courage to jump through every hoop imaginable to get it. I once wrote a protagonist who was ready to throw everything else in her life away for the one thing she desired. Why? Because she knew it was the only thing that would make her happy.
As a writer, I’ve come to realize my father has essentially been telling me to be the heroine of my own comedy. And as long as I’m willing to pursue happiness above all else, my characters will continue to do the same.
3) A woman’s father is the most important male figure in her life.
Every girl, no matter how many strong women surround her, still needs a man in her life to serve as an example of what she should expect from all the other men she ever meets. Brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and even male friends can provide some insight, but no man is more influential in a woman’s life than her father. He’s the man who raised her, who watched her grow up, who was always there for her (or in many cases, wasn’t). He’s the first man who ever loved her and the only one guaranteed to love her forever. How can any other man hope to compare?
Princess Merida sharing a laugh with her father, King Fergus (Brave, 2012)
More often than not, the way a girl interacts with her father growing up will set the standard for how she interacts with men throughout her adult life. The relationship I have with my dad is one of my most valuable family ties because he’s more than just a cool dad to me; he’s a mentor and a friend. Our bond has made me the woman I am today and has served as inspiration for several father-daughter relationships in my fiction, and his wisdom continues to guide me and influence my stories about family. I’ve learned much from my mother and sisters, but my connection with my father will always be exceptional!
What about you? Have you ever been creatively inspired by your father’s lessons? What sorts of stories or poetry has he inspired?
Today’s post is dedicated to my father, whose love and lessons have always been a wonderful inspiration to me. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!
If there’s one thing I remember
From the days when I was small,
It’s the lessons that you taught me,
The wisest words of all.
You told me to be happy
In whatever I might do,
Whether writing for a living
Or finding love that’s true.
Your incredible work ethic
Was your family’s guiding light,
As you worked from early morning
To the late hours of night.
For the family you so love,
You do everything you can,
And your three adoring daughters
See you as their Superman.
You’re the best male role model
That a girl has ever had.
I’d say my greatest blessing
Is to have you for a dad.
So I say to you, dear father
(I think you know the rest),
I love you times a million!
May your birthday be the best!
Happy Birthday to my wonderful father! Thank you for your inspiring lessons and words of wisdom! I love you so much!
‘Tis the season that ends another year,
A time we celebrate the Lord above.
The air is filled with warm holiday cheer
As families rejoice and share their love.
Evergreen trees are dressed in colored light
As door to door, the caroling choirs roam.
Outside, the falling snow paints the world white
While presents are exchanged in every home.
Children rush to the frosty windows quick
To try to see the magic reindeer fly,
Pulling the sleigh of Jolly Old Saint Nick,
Making his yearly trip across the sky.
God bless us all with peace in every way.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas Day!
Merry Christmas to all my family, friends, and readers who are celebrating! May you all have a blessed weekend and a wonderful holiday season!
It’s that time of the year again, the time when the lights return and the street comes alive with their magic.
Quietly I sit in the back seat of our car, waiting anxiously for the show to begin. My parents tune the radio to the station posted on the sign in the main house’s front lawn. A moment of static passes, then the sound comes through and I start to quiver excitedly.
I press my face to the window as a voice comes on the radio. Out on the lawn, a bear made of an outline of lights has appeared and is talking in sync with the voice in our car. He welcomes us to the show and says he hopes we’ll have fun tonight. I know I will. I always do.
When the music starts, the lights on the streets dim. Another lit outline, a toy soldier playing a guitar, appears beside the bear. He softly strums the instrument as the sound of a real guitar plays through the radio. It starts out soft, then suddenly the music flares up and the decorated houses along the street come to life. Lights flash in colored patterns atop the roofs and in the lawns. My eyes shine wide with wonder; it’s finally begun!
A voice starts to sing over the music and the bear moves his jaws in sync with the words. Around him, the lights dance to the rhythm of the remixed Christmas carol he’s singing. Snowflakes twinkle in alternating patterns on the trees. Reindeer pulling sleighs glow on the rooftops. Christmas trees spin on the lawns and flash in bright patterns in the driveway of a house behind us. Outlines of familiar characters shine through a light grid on the roof. And all the while, every single light keeps perfect time with the music. It’s a magical sight!
My parents and I watch the lights dance to a handful of Christmas songs, many old favorites, some new tunes, and each more amazing than the last. Finally, the bear returns to speaking to thank us for watching the show and to ask us for donations to a children’s hospital. My parents must be able to read my mind because they turn around to hand me a $50 bill before I can say a word. I smile as I take it before I rush outside. As I drop the bill into the donation box, I look up at the bear to wink at him. I can almost swear I see him wink back at me.
It’s the most magical time of the year. I can’t wait for next year’s Christmas light show!
I boarded the plane with a racing heart and tears in my eyes. Goodbyes are never easy, especially with family. You just have to keep telling yourself that it isn’t farewell for good; you’ll see each other again on holidays and special occasions. In the meantime, the separation will make future reunions all the sweeter.
That’s what I told myself as I settled in my seat, what my subconscious whispered in the back of my mind through the whole flight as I read my books, watched in-flight movies, and struggled to fall asleep, tossing and turning under my blanket. The dark sky outside had never looked so welcoming and intimidating at once.
It wasn’t until the great city came into view below that I really started to feel excited. The end of my journey was drawing near. What was waiting for me on the other side? I already knew what to expect as I stepped off the plane. It was why I couldn’t stop smiling as I stood in line at Passport Control or shaking as I pulled my suitcase off the conveyor belt.
I knew that the moment I stepped through the doors to the Arrivals deck, I would see his face smiling back at me, his loving brown eyes just as bright with hope and happiness as mine. The feeling of running into his arms was the most comforting in the world, knowing I’d never have to leave them again.
Time for a fresh start. My new life was about to begin!