The sun is shining.
The weather is warm.
The days are long.
The pools are open and waiting.
Flip flops are everywhere.
Lightning bugs are out.
The kids are out of school.
Procrastinating parents are scrambling to find a summer camp that isn't already full.
Summer is here!!!!
It's the time of year when it is nearly impossible for an author with kids to get anything done. Anything. At all.
There are few things in this world more difficult that trying to write with your children on top of you and yet also under your feet. For those of you who don't have kids, trust me- they can do both simultaneously. Even my husband is capable of an Isabella Garcia-Shapiro-worthy "Whattcha doin"? when I'm trying to get a little work done (he did it while I was working on the first draft of this post). Depending on what I am currently working on, I'll tell them about the characters, what they are like, and what's going on in the story. But sometimes I really just need to pound the keys to get out what is swirling in my brain before it explodes, and my kids constantly asking for a snack or if they can play on the Wii brings that detonation even closer.
If I ever get a good, solid chunk of writing done this summer, you'll hear about it on Twitter. It will be that exciting.
Phoenix Morrow was really difficult to work on last summer when my boys were around. For those of you that have read it (and if you haven't, you need to!), I'm sure you can understand why. For starters, the characters use a decent amount of profanity. That wasn't out of a personal desire to write that way, but it was simply the kind of language those characters would use. When a street rat in the inner city tells you to go away, he doesn't ask nicely. He tells you to f--- off. To have that kind of dialogue happen any other way wouldn't be true to the characters. Secondly, an integral part of Phoenix's journey is the hardships she has to overcome. If I am going to ask her to overcome abuse, abandonment, even rape, I have to write those things. Not the easiest thing to do with a nine year old sitting next to you.
For my fellow authors struggling with similar issues, I hear you. The temptation to park your kids in front of the television all day just to accomplish something is strong. My advice to you is two-fold;
Learn to write in small chunks. This took me a while to really embrace in my own writing, because I would have entire chapters and huge story arcs in my head that I wanted to get out and completed, pretty and polished up nicely. However, there isn't always time to make something beautiful, and when the choice is between writing a little or nothing at all, write something. Anything. I found for myself that I actually am capable of accomplishing something substantial in a shorter period than I would have thought. When the kids are in the shower, or shooting basketball for a few minutes, pound a page out. Another similar moment will come along to clean it up later.
Also, sometimes parking your children is okay. You are not a bad parent for giving them something to occupy themselves for a few minutes so you can get something done. As long as it's not a constant pacifier, let them watch a movie or play a game of football on the Wii. It's not going to kill them. Better yet, give them a book and set the kitchen timer. I do this with my kids all of the time. We regularly have Family Reading Time, where I set the timer in the kitchen and we all (including me) sit with a book for 20 minutes. What I love the most is that it gives me an excuse to sit with a book for 20 solid, uninterrupted minutes! Many times I have said to them, "The book Mommy is going to be reading is my own on the computer", and they understand that I need to write.
My boys know Mommy's an author, and the actually think it's kind of cool.
Praise God for that, right?
Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there, and a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Daddy today!
You can always find me on Facebook and Twitter. I love hearing from you! #LoveMyReaders