Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Promise

This is my mom, Deb.*
Notice the gobs of books behind us? This is one shelf of many at my parents' house. She could open a used book store; we tease her about it all the time.
My mom is the one from whom I got my love of books. A paperback was never far from her reach, and that kind of thing gets impressed upon a kid. It didn't hurt that she took my sister and me to the library frequently, as soon as we were old enough to appreciate it. I remember lugging home as many books as the library would allow, and relishing every one. The feel of the cool, smooth pages in my small hands. The musty, used smell. I love all of it. I love books.
It's also my mom who has encouraged me to write for as long as I can remember. Even as a young student, when I probably didn't attribute much to the idea of "being a writer," she'd pore over things I wrote for classes... There was one essay, Plaid Pants, I wrote about the polyester outfit she "forced" me to wear in the early 80's, when I was 5 years old. Ugh, it was horrible. You could feel my pain in that short blurb. Then, and other times, she said, "Janna, you should be a writer."
Somewhere along the way I started to feel the same. I never had an English teacher who took me under her wing, or helped cultivate my talent: It's something I found on my own. But my mom was always there with encouragement, kind of helping me unearth my potential.
Then, last year, a childhood friend of hers published a novel based on his boyhood. She was touched by his recounting of the growing up years, set in the area she was raised, during the telling of which my uncle (and Mom's brother), it seemed, filled the fictional role of the main character's buddy. She appreciated her old friend's talent, saw his achievement, the fact that he'd done it; written a book and seen it to publication. And she felt it. I think she understood everything my desire represents.
"Promise me, Janna. Promise you'll see your dream happen." And I did.
So see? Now I have to do it. I have to keep writing. I have to follow it through. Because I promised her. And because I promised me.
Have you made a promise? To yourself or someone else? If not, I suggest you do. It goes a long way in lighting one's fire, in holding oneself accountable.
And I wish you the best.
*This is one of my favorite pictures, taken just a couple months after her "surprise" double-bypass... She'd gone to the hospital one Friday afternoon, feeling "off" but suspecting what was happening - though she'd always, always been healthy, and by Monday morning she was having open-heart surgery. She was very blessed, and is now heart-healthy.


Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Your blog brings back so many similar memories. For as long as I can remember, my mom was an avid reader and we shared our books and spent hours talking about the stories we read. My mom also wrote beautiful letters, told captivating stories and wrote wonderful short stories. We shared a writing class as adults. My mom was always my writing cheerleader. She passed away from Alzheimers a few years ago, but I still feel her writing spirit strong within me.

Linda Hoye said...

What a beautiful picture - and a beautiful Mom you have. Having a mother who has encouraged you to read and write is a double blessing!

Joanne said...

This is a beautiful story, Janna. How perfect to have that promise in your life, a bond with your mother who has such faith in you and your ability. New Year's blessings to the both of you.

Angie Ledbetter said...

So glad your good mom encouraged your talent. Now the rest of us will enjoy your book one day. Please thank her from me for the inspiration. And write on!

Melissa Amateis said...

What a great promise to make to yourself and to your mother. My mother is also a writer so it's neat to be able to compare notes sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Janna, you are indeed a special child. Where did we get you? Writing is as natural to you as breathing. Keep working.... (the plaid pants weren't that bad)

Love, Mom

Janna Leadbetter said...

Donna - Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. What a blessing, though, you and she had such a bond, and that your special memories are still with you today.

Linda - Thank you so much! She's pretty great. (Shh... don't tell her...)

Joanne - You're so sweet. Thank you!

Angie - That's so great of you to say! Huggles. (<- A new favorite words of mine, from you!)

Melissa - That's awesome you share the talent with your mom!

Mom, the plaid pants scarred me for life. Can't... breathe... memories too... painful... LOL!
Thank you for the sweet words. I'm so blessed to have you and Dad as my parents, and I've never thought or wished for anything different.

Janna Leadbetter said...

^ I suppose I could have reserved that for Mother's/Father's Day cards... ;)

Melissa Amateis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Barb Davis said...

Janna- You're such a sweetheart and now I understand where it comes from. What a wonderful mother you have.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear your mom is healthy again! You two look so much alike. It's wonderful that she's always been there to be your cheerleader.

I pray you have a New Year filled with blessing, health, and all things good. Happy New Year!

Janna Leadbetter said...

Barbara, you are too much. Thank you!

FringeGirl - Aw, thanks so much. And I pray the same for you and your family!

Author Jessica Nelson said...

Cute pic!
I too love the feel and smell of books. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to use an e-reader.
I just love books.
That's awesome how supportive your mom is. You're very blessed.

ChristaCarol Jones said...

You resemble your mother very much! Two very beautiful ladies! It's so great to have someone backing you, supporting you, pushing you to meet your dreams. My life has sort of been the opposite. But it's changing a bit, I have a few people in my life now that though they don't understand, they want to support my dreams.

And I have promised myself I'll do something. And I can't help but think (or obsess) over it every day. Born a procrastinator, it's been a challenge getting over such a flawed hump to get things done, but I know I can do it. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

That's very cool that you have these wonderful memories with your mom. I once owned a used bookstore so I know very well that smell you speak of...LOVED it. My mom worked with me there, she cleaned every used book that came in with Lysol...another smell I will always identify with books now :) My mom passed away 2 1/2 yrs ago and I'm so glad we had that chance to experience that together. Not that working with your mother is something I'd recommend to everyone. . . eeeek! But in looking back I wouldn't trade any of it.

I talked my book to death to my parents when they were alive, and they didn't get to see it complete, so my promise is to put them in the dedication when it gets published... when/if/when/if...

Janna Leadbetter said...

Jessica - While I first thought the Kindle would be great, I've come to feel the way you do: I'd miss hard copy books too much!

ChristaCarol - Good for you! That makes your reward so much richer, I bet. :)

Sharla - That's incredibly endearing. And I'm a firm believer in, well, believing in yourself. You keep your faith and will strong, and you'll see that dedication published along with your book!

Yolanda said...

May you have a wonderful new year.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this personal experience with us. You mom seems like a great person. Mine passed away when I was 19. There were no promises spoken of, but she had a way of looking at life (even while suffering) in a positive way. So I try and do the same. Have a wonderful New Year!

Janna Leadbetter said...

Yolanda - Welcome! And I hope you have a wonderful '09, too.

Oh, Turk, I'm so sorry for your loss. I bet she'd be so proud of you and your family. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

A lovely story, Janna, thank you for sharing!

And a most blessed and happy New Year, sweetie!

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thank you, Kimmi!

Jennifer Taylor said...

I got my love of books from my mother as well. Great post and it does make me think back to all the books and conversations my mother and I have shared. Thanks.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Jennifer - Thanks for commenting! I love when memories come flowing back like that. Have a great New Year!

Janet said...

Give your mom a hug from me.

I promised myself I would write my manuscript till it was finished, polish it till it shone, and market it until it was published or there were no more doors to walk on.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Janet - Done! I don't think she's ever had a hug from a Candadian before. LOL

Melanie Hooyenga said...

Wow, this is such a powerful post. I think it's wonderful that you've made that promise to your mom, and in turn, to yourself. It's amazing what our parents' faith in us can do!

Anonymous said...

That is a great picture and a really meaningful post. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thanks, you two!