Once I'd adjusted to the realisation that there was nothing wrong, I found that what he had to say was totally surprising. He'd read my new novel, the funny and romantic one, over the weekend and he just wanted to let me know how much he'd enjoyed it and how impressed he was with my writing and the story.
You might expect that such family praise would be commonplace, but I can assure you that's not the case for me. I've had my work mentioned and talked about, but Dad's always been faint with his praise. Because of this, I was stunned into happiness and delight as well as experiencing a rare pride in myself. It was a fantastic moment and I'll treasure, you can bet on that.
It made me realise something, or at least underlined a suspicion of mine, that there's a strong sense of vanity in what I do as a writer when I put my work out.
Here's a better example.
I've put together a kind of Best Of The Best (the ones I can use) of my short stories into a collection. It's called Hymn From AVillage and I love everything about it. And it's a complete act of vanity.
First off, I'm going to tell you not to buy it. It'll be free for a couple of days next week, the 18th and 19th October. You can get a copy then if you remember, but that's entirely up to you.
Next I'll explain the vanity aspect.
I have a number of collections out as ebooks and stories in some wornderful anthologies. The thing is, I like to have a paperback copy of my work. Three copies, actually.
What I'm doing is leaving a legacy of sorts for my children.
It's about saying to them, 'Hey, I wasn't just a cook, cleaner and grumpy sod you know.' Yes I was all of those things, but I'm also a writer and I'm not too bad at it - I think I'm on the good side.
I'm imagining me as a bag of bones and then a boxful of the them and hoping they'll turn the pages and be proud of me. As if being a writer is better than not being (that's the way I see it). As if I achieved something and can be looked on with love and respect.
For that reason I have 3 copies of Hymn From A Village on order. I could do it with ebooks, I suppose, but that doesn't seem safe enough. I want them to have something they can hold, put on their shelves or in a special box. I want it to be a multi-sensory experience. I also hope they like what they read and feel they know me a little better because of it. Maybe it'll help them put things into perspective about me and fill gaps in what they know and remember. Who knows?
Isn't that the unltimate vanity? Trying to create a memorial for yourself to make you seem more than might otherwise be remembered? Like building a pyramid or a statue?
Thing is, it doesn't matter. I'm vain and I know it. That's OK. I'm proud of who I am as a father and also as a writer. Bringing the two together seem to be the most natural things in the world.
Now I'm off to clear a new space for may latest conceit.