Sorry to be so slow responding…I’ve been pondering your words as a mother, a writer and hopefully a friend, and wanted to do them justice even as I disagree a bit.
So…first of all to acknowledge your very sucky year…those things would tear apart the best of us! I’m so very sorry about every bit of it and I hope time will ease some of the pain, but — I think it falls into the bucket of “when bad things happen to good people.” That is, these are discreet events that you may have been a part of and affect who you are, but they are not Who you are. You are no less special than before they happened, you are no less worthy of your mother’s pride, and you will eventually figure out how to feel whole again. Might not think it’s possible now, but you will.
Beyond that, you are no less of an amazing writer simply because you’re not making a bunch of money off it or reading to the right crowd. Here’s my theory on what makes a writer great, and it isn’t a thrilling plot, an exciting twist, fun characters and fancy verbiage, although those things are nice. What makes a person read a book and an author over and over again is the strength of the characters — beyond how well they’re crafted, to how they become real. It’s not something that can be defined, it’s just in the way I guess that the author is able to tap into the root of their humanity. These characters are rare and reach across generations of readers. These are your characters, Walker! And they are indeed rare. Your family reaches out from the page and touches me in a very real way.
Further, I don’t think an author can create such vivid characters without being a very caring, empathetic being. You have shown yourself to be that person over and over, reaching out to other writers across Medium and also talking about how you interact with your mother. Do you think your mother values that more, or the fancy readings? As a mother myself, I can guarantee she cares more about your love and empathy. There may be times when she is disappointed in the turn your life has taken, but it would be disappointed in what happened, not in who you are. Very different things. She wants the best for you.
Plus, I am proud of you so how can she not be? Your honesty is beyond brave. She might be a grumpy old lady and she might not always say how she feels, but she is proud.