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Response to Chris Guillebeau’s “Legacy Projects” post

Original post is here. Read it — it’s short, and the comment thread on his site is almost always thoughtful.

Relevant exerpt:

“You wanted—and expected—them to say, “This is great! I always knew you could do this. How can I help make it better? How can we tell the world about it?”

But no, you don’t get that at all. You just get the the faint praise, the brush-off, the indifference.

Then you realize… maybe this thing just wasn’t that important to them. Or maybe you didn’t know them as well as you thought you did. How sad.”

I have a very different experience in that I never expected any of my family and close friends to get what I do.

After all, I’m an erotic writer. And not because I want to make my living from erotica/romantica/erotic romance because it’s a huge trend in publishing right now.  My impulses to do adult work have very early origins. Sexuality is part of how I understand people in their entirety. It comes out in my art, because it’s my way of expressing my human experiences and empathy for other humans.

Do I expect my conservative father to get it?  No!  He’s embarrassed at sex scenes in movies (so am I, but for different reasons.)  He was shocked when I saw The Crying Game and Basic Instinct at a slumber party.

Do I expect my close friends to get it?  No!  My close friends are not vocational.  They are good friends from childhood and college, and not part of the sex fiction world.

Achievers desperately need support, but it’s often just silly to expect it from people close to you.

You don’t get to pick your family — why should you expect them to get you?  Don’t a lot of teenage fights come from parents not understanding what really drives you?  Your parents often have different values and participate in different emotional fantasies (EFs.)  Their definition of success comes from your achieving fulfillment of their EFs and values, not your own.

They simply don’t know what yours are, and being human, they probably don’t see them as valid as their own.  For example: one my mother’s emotional fantasies (she’s an interior designer) is to have a home that truly reflects her personality, somewhere she can be comfortable in.  She works constantly to fulfill this EF for herself and other people.

I live in a co-op, have very few possessions, and sit on the floor.

My top value is freedom.  It makes me uncomfortable when my place fills up with too much stuff.  I have The Purge every season and very little attachment to objects.  She really doesn’t get it, and thinks that her EF will make my life more complete, if I’d just try it.

If your best-friend-growing-up’s ultimate EF is to have 3 daughters and coach soccer, do you think he’ll truly get why you want to write scary mime erotic horror?  Of course not.

I’m totally not offended when I get a weak response from them.  In fact, I rarely tell them what I’m doing, just that I’m doing a project that I’m excited about.  I save the details for my vocational friends, the ones who do share my EFs and values, and can immediately connect what I’m doing to fulfillment.

And, of course, appreciate the project for its own sake.  (Yes, I’m going to finish that centaur porn piece…)

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