I’ve written ever since I was a little kid. I love the written word and I knew for a very long time that I wanted to do something that involved writing whether journalism, screenwriting, or books. I never really thought books, however, would be the path I would choose because they are long and arduous, and I have a short attention span. But here I am nearly finished with my second novel.

But here comes the important part. It’s Mother’s Day. And as much as my mother, Lynette Bass, has been everything to me, including cook, chauffer, driving teacher, fashion guide, guidance counselor, my doctor, my biggest fan in my music, my biggest fan in my boxing, my biggest fan in my writing, my biggest fan in whatever I did, my pal, my conversationalist, my confidant, my prayer at night, my constant, she has been something I don’t think most moms get to be: a critic. Like an actual artistic critic.

I’m not certain she understands how much of an influence she has had on my writing. She was constantly “blown away” by what I would put together. From my early teens to my twenties to now. She would point out why she thought it was great. You may be thinking, “Well, yeah. What mom doesn’t do that?” Precisely.

My mom, however, didn’t always consider my writing gold. She didn’t think every line I put to paper was brilliant. Because, well, it wasn’t. And she let me know that.

She had simple responses, like “No” or “Nah.” Plenty of times she would just say she didn’t like it. Those honest times were the times that paved the way for complete confidence in her.

My mom, she’s a smart lady. She understands art. She understands what sounds good and looks good. But most importantly, at least for me, she knows what reads good.

She was the one person in my family I could go to with my work. I knew I could hand her a piece of paper or several pieces of paper and she would read it and she would give me her thoughts. It was never just, “That’s nice” or “Good job.” No. It was always a thorough reading and a thorough discussion. And then she would always inform me that I had a gift. A gift with words. There aren’t very many other things I would rather hear in life.

I needed her critiques to make me a better writer. I needed to know that I could bring her my work at any time and she would be willing, more than willing, to read it. It thrilled me to no end to finally finish something and bring it to her. I still do it to this day. If she thought it was good, then I thought it was good.

A mother helps make a man. Shapes him. Guides him with love and understanding. I don’t know the psychology behind it, but moms can provide stability or they can strip it away. My mom provided it. A stability in myself. A belief. The belief that I could be a writer, and not only that, but that I was a writer.

I am a writer. Without my mom—without my critic—I honestly don’t think I would be.