Writing’s New Horror: The Book Mum

I’ve discovered the next big thing in writing … alas, it’s not a fantastic new genre.

It’s the Book Mum – although fairly, it should probably be called the Book Parent, but so far I’ve only encountered the female of the species.

The Book Parent is the latest thing in an evolutionary chain that includes the Stage Mom and the Sport Dad. Yes, parents who are incapable of any endeavour other than being determined that their child is a genius in either acting, sports, or other thing that might bring attention, kudos and cash to the parental pocket.

The Book Parent is utterly convinced that their son/daughter is a genius because they (a) have written a short story, (b) have written a 300,000 word reworking of Twilight or Game of Thrones, and/or (c) are “extremely creative” in a non-defined-way-but-you-figure-we’ll-give-wiring-a-shot-coz-it’s-easy.

The Book Parent refuses to accept that their child might not be a genius. The Book Parent is steadfast in their belief that the writing and publishing world has been waiting for their child to arrive. The Book Parent does not wish to hear about the realities of marketability, editing, proofreading, scarce-on-the-ground agents, timelines and deadlines, plagiarism, competition in the marketplace, or indeed, child labour laws.

The Book Parent thinks their child is free from the need which binds other writers to format their manuscript in a manner that makes it look other than a Grade 4’s assignment.

It’s nice to support your kid, but you do them no favours by telling them they are brilliant (in spite of all evidence to the contrary, or even if they are) and don’t have to do any hard work. That they don’t have to follow any rules or change their story to fix spelling or plot holes a Mack truck can drive through. That no one will ever, ever be critical of their work. That they never ever have to learn or improve or try hard.

The Book Parent is a new kind of menace.

Do yourself and your kid a favour – get them to some writing classes. Encourage them to be better, to learn, to do the hard yards, to learn the industry and follow its very few, gentle rules. Then, maybe just then, your kid will have a chance to make it as a writer, and not just turn into some self-centred, demanding little snot with an overgrown sense of their own self-importance.

And teach them how to spell!!!

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4 Responses to Writing’s New Horror: The Book Mum

  1. sarah says:

    I found this post via twitter. It’s interesting. I teach writing to teens, and I’ve had a couple of parents such as you describe. They only bother me for a little while, because as soon as I give their child a real critique, they snatch him away, presumably to protect his sensitivities. It’s frustrating because I know any talent those children might have will probably be lost beneath their overblown self-esteem.

    On the other hand, I do appreciate how hard it can be to support a child who *is* very good at what they do, and how parents in those situations may stress about being seen as a “sports dad” or “stage mother”. I totally agree with you that *real* support – getting lessons, making them do the real work – is key.

  2. Angela says:

    All very good points. Alas, sometimes the parent has no idea as to the quality the kid is producing or their potential and they don’t want to hear anything but’ BRILLIANT. Then there was the woman who said ‘But surely my daughter’s age is a selling point?!” The kid is 11.

  3. I have met a Book Dad. *shudder*