Drollerie Press

Drollerie Blog Tour: Jessica Howe on fathers

It’s time for this month’s round of the Drollerie Blog Tour! Jessica Howe has visited me before, in the very first month of this year; give her a warm welcome for her return, y’all!

I have to largely credit my father with my interest in writing. He’s a professional linguist/translator, and I always thought he was the smartest person I knew — I think I still do. He got me reading from a very young age, and that was the logical stepping stone to writing, in which he also encouraged me a great deal.

Dad’s funny like that; he’s a shy guy who isn’t seen much outside his home, but the US Patent Office knows him very well indeed as they are one among a variety of important institutions for which he’s done work over the years. While I was still living at home, I worked for him as his technical typist, and learned a thorough dislike of patent proofing…

…While doing this, in the periods between typing for Dad, he helped me start out at sending stuff. I remember very clearly spending hours taking old stamps off of envelopes he had so I could reuse them for my own first submissions. We got a used copy of “Writer’s Market”, and he spent some time on the Internet looking up the places that were suggested inside, as well as “how to submit…”

My submissions process changed over the years. When I was living in Boston and didn’t always have computer access, I remember giving Dad a list over the phone of stuff to submit for me. That happened every so often — now my fiance does it on the rare occasions I can’t get to a computer.

Dad’s always been my biggest fan, even though he doesn’t always like the stories I write. He’s helped me with the science of them, looking things up — sometimes when I haven’t asked him to! He’s also helped me with their language, since he knows that like him, I am fascinated by linguistics to the extent that I’ve made up a few tongues of my own. He’s therefore constantly giving me books on various languages of the world, and sending me information on others that are more obscure (like the ‘Kung language…). And every time I get a major publication, he sends the news to all his colleagues in the translation world.

Sadly, as my fiance pointed out the other day when we were shopping for Father’s Day cards, there is no card around that discusses glottal stops and velars, or that makes funny linguistic jokes. The cards about “my dad at the eighteenth hole” don’t quite fit him, you see. Once I recall as a kid writing a Father’s Day card that said “Happy Father’s Day” in twelve different languages. How I’d do that same card now, I don’t know.

I know Dad’s thrilled that I’m engaged and due to be married soon — my mother told me he barely stopped the car where she was waiting for him in the parking lot to tell her, he was so excited when he heard. And then, like he does with my writing, he went and told all his translator friends and colleagues. And then he helped me look forever online for a pattern for a dress, so my mother could make something in my clan tartan.

In between wedding plans, I’ve been writing for helium and gaming to try and keep stress at a minimum at the house. So far it’s worked well. But I’m a little sad all the same that there’s been no publications meantime for Dad to jump for joy about.

Sometime again I’ll have stuff. I do it for my own happiness, and in hopes that someday I’ll be able to make a minor living off of it, but also, I do it in honor of my father, who isn’t always right like I thought when I was a kid, but is still cool.

my website: http://howewriter2000.4t.com

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