How does the old saying go? Behind every good man is a good woman. That adage drives the feminist in me bananas, but if you remove the gender reference, its underlying point is solid. It takes a village holds true for anyone pursuing a dream. In my case it took my father, my sister, and my husband.
We’ll start with the patriarch, my father, Michael Fabiaschi (aka Poppy). He wasn’t a coddler; far from it. Anything that could be construed as whining was promptly refuted with, “So what are you gonna do about it?” This turned my sister and I into doers and risk takers. When I told him I planned to write a novel, I explained I had no expectation it’d get published. “Then it won’t,” he said. I stood there stunned. “What? If you have no expectation of success, how the hell can you expect anyone to take a risk on you? You need to have your own back.” He took my dream-pursuing seriously, which fed me confidence. He was my biggest fan. When he died, I didn’t write for three years. I raced back to the corporate world where I knew his every opinion. I’d already proven myself in the high tech world, so when the going got tough I hid there.
That’s when my sister, Sarah Byrnes, took the reigns as dream-chasing cheerleader. She’s multi-talented: a master editor and pro-bono therapist who gives amazing parenting advice on the side. It wasn’t easy to get me back on the keyboard. She gently reminded me I’d already decided the corporate scene wasn’t for me. Poke. Wait a month. Poke again. One night I vented about working around the clock for a lifestyle I didn’t even want, and she burrowed our father’s line and asked what I planned to do about it. The next time we got together she dragged me out to Dad’s screened-in porch, Maker’s Mark wafting through the air as a sort of mourning aromatherapy, and let me cry my heart out. It’s the night I decided I should resign.
But I wouldn’t have were it not for my husband, Kevin from Heaven. We had two kids in private school, a mortgage, a boat, and two cars when I broached the subject of slicing our income in half. “Do it,” he said without hesitation. “You were meant to be a writer.”
His support didn’t end there. Before the book went on submission, I asked if he’d mind if I wrote under my maiden name, Fabiaschi, instead of Wittnebert. (I know, I know, they both just roll off the tongue.) “That’s a great way to honor your father,” he said. (My son, on the other hand, is not amused by my dual-identity. The first time he heard me introduce myself as Abby Fabiaschi instead of Abby Wittnebert he said, “Wait! So who are you, really?”)
I often wish I LIKED MY LIFE was already out there, circulating. Fifteen months seems infinitesimally far away. Then I stop and think about what it took to get this far. The people, the effort, the risk, and I’m left with nothing but gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all.
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