Years ago I heard a professor say, “I can explain it to you but I cannot understand it for you.”
I recently posted a blog titled, “Why I Don’t Holiday.” It was well received in the blog-o-sphere but not so much on Face Book. I was flamed there and via email, one of which began, “At the risk of dignifying your rant, let me say….”
My sin was to use a narrow definition of “family” and then conclude that I am not a member of such.
I stand on the edge of the embers of that post and am poised to toss a can of gasoline onto the glowing coals.
Families, by any definition are supposed to be mutually supportive, cohesive groups. Let’s discuss the notion of support.
Let me offer two examples of support, or lack thereof.
First, anyone who follows me on FB knows that I am currently building a second floor deck, some fifteen feet above ground level. I said “building”, not “having it built”.
The first reaction was when a relative asked my wife, “isn’t he a bit too old to be doing that?” That shows concern, not support.
The second was after Lowe’s had delivered the material and I got a look at the support timbers, 20 feet long, treated 6X6 posts, each weighing several hundred pounds. I knew immediately that there was no way I could lift them by myself. I communicated this to a relative and he said, “I’ll call someone for you.” That shows, not support but an ability to delegate.
A few days later I ran into an old friend, a man in the building trade. I thought I might pick his brain as to methods for lifting that wood since rubbing lamps and telekinesis had both failed. He said, “hell, Rick, we’re framing a house near you. Give me a week to finish it and I’ll bring some equipment and a couple of my guys. We’ll set those posts for you.” True to his word, a week and a half later he showed up with two other guys. They set the posts and while his workers were stowing their tools he went to his truck and returned with an invoice for $350. That was not showing support, that was a demonstration of the ability to secure a no bid contract.
The next challenge was to hoist the 12 feet long 2X6 perimeter boards, level and nail them in place. Perhaps a five minute job for two men, each on a ladder at the opposite ends. More like an hour for one person using pulleys and ropes to secure the loose end while nailing the other.
For the last of these, once the deck boards were partially installed, my wife stood above tugging on a rope while I positioned the board. Not much of a challenge until you take into account that she has arthritic fingers and the procedure dealt her a bit of pain. That goes above and beyond being supportive.
The deck is all but finished so let’s move on to example number two.
The following may come off as self-serving but I do not usually use this space to promote my work. It addresses self-publishing.
A relative, ex actually due to divorce, wrote a couple of books under the name Kate Stephens. “Track Of The Jaguar” and “The Leopold Succession”, both available on Amazon. When I learned about her books I went to Amazon, paid full retail, read and reviewed them. This was not out of any quest for literary entertainment but to show support. I’m told that’s what families do.
Another relative wrote a book on family accounting. Bought, read and reviewed.
I have several books on the market. I won’t litter the landscape here with links. Google Rick Fontes and you’ll have all the links you can use. The books are selling as well as can be expected given that they aren’t really being promoted. I even had a fellow blogger, one of the widest known in the field, Harsh Reality, generously give me a couple of guest spots and we have never even met. That’s called support.
The people who have bought my books have done so merely on the basis of title, cover art, a synopsis and perhaps the “look inside” feature on Amazon. Their purpose in making a purchase was not to offer support to someone they know. It was for literary entertainment. I can only hope that they got their money’s worth.
For family, friends, relative and associates, the expected purpose for making such a purchase would be to show support, without regard to literary content. Again, I’m told that’s what families do.
This is not a get rich quick ploy. I put a lot of time, research, thought and effort into each book in an attempt to give the reader the best value for the time and money spent. My average royalty per book is less than a half dollar. If everyone I’m related to bought a copy of each book it would hardly kick start me toward being the next Kurt Vonnegut.
The cover price of an individual book is less than what the average person spends at the Mickey-D drive thru or when plugged into a Wi-Fi and a latte at Starbucks and the time it takes to write a review is less than it takes to tweet, “I just gave a ten spot to a homeless dude on East 9th. He smiled and it made my day.”
If Maiden Aunt Matilda wrote a book on the joy of the multiple cat household I would buy it, read it and, although I have no affinity for cats, I would write a review. Why? Because that’s how you show support.
So, putting all the platitudes and umbrage aside, family, where’s the love?
Okay, there it is. I’m standing here in my asbestos tighty-whiteys. Flame ahead on.