Somewhere along the way, many writers forget that they are writers. They may go to college to get a “useful” degree, spend some years looking for a career and putting that degree to use, and start a family. Then, one night, they will tuck their little ones in with a bedtime story, and that story will elicit a “Hmmm.”
In the stage of Parenthood, a reintroduction to children’s books and a stronger than ever connection to children brings back many writers after a long hiatus. Ironically, this is also the stage when the least amount of time is available for writing.
Children’s Book Writers Who Are Parents:
How to Recognize:
These writers range from their 20’s to their 50’s and beyond. You will most likely identify them as a parent first by the spit up on their shoulder, Transformer in their hair, and bags under their eyes.
What They Have to Offer:
Parent writers seem to run on nothing but motivation and Dora the Explorer reruns. Sleep becomes a luxury. A stay at home parent can write a picture book in the midst of a light saber war or an entire novel in 12 minute increments locked inside the bathroom. I know parents who juggle another job with writing and wake up at 4 a.m. daily to write in peace. Time might seem a disadvantage for writers with kids, but in fact, their lack of time makes parents the staunchest time managers in the children’s writing biz.
Parents also have the advantage of having a member of their target audience right there in their household. Not only are they up-to-date on the current market, but they get a first-hand review with each book their child reads. They are reminded of (prisoner to?) what ignites kids’ emotions as well as the latest trends in school curriculum requirements.
Where They Can Stand to Gain:
While parent writers weasel writing time out of their constraining schedules, the physical constraints of parenthood are tougher to elude. Traveling for in-person critique groups, conferences, and book signings depends on who is available to watch the little ones and the timing of the big ballet recital.
In fact, it is easy for a parent’s world to narrow down to the world of their family. It is important for these writers to occasionally escape this world: to let their mind wander away from the day’s grocery list and dirty laundry, and to observe people that aren’t next-of-kin. A mother might unknowingly craft every character in her story, Larry, Mary, and Gary, after her own sweet Terry. And any parent might fall into the trap of assuring an agent in the cover letter that their child loved their story.