Today, we are introducing a brand new feature on our blog: the Author's Corner, where City Owl Press authors take the stage (or the page) and talk about writing, interests close to their hearts (and their books) and life.
For the first installation, please welcome Urban Fantasy author Joshua Bader, who talks about writing with children.
Writing With Children
As I write this, I have a large, and still wet, milk stain on my favorite Star Wars t-shirt from my youngest son. My middle daughter is sitting in her high chair and reading over my shoulder as I type. I’m convinced she’s teaching herself how to use the computer by watching me, so that she can commence with her plans for world domination as soon as I leave her unattended with an internet connection. My eldest daughter is a teenager, so she will only enter into this if she decides to leave her cave and venture into the sunlit lands today.
Robert Heinlein said that writing is a socially acceptable antisocial disease. The writer does not write because they want to, but because they have to. Some unseen nefarious internal defect pushes them to put words to the page, to tune out the world around them and WRITE. Writers write because they must.
That’s true enough for me, I suppose. I have thousands and thousands of pages of writing that will never be released, either because I’m too lazy to finish the story or because the mold and mildew will consume them before I have time to get around to it. Publishing stories, as opposed to writing them, is more difficult. Writing for publication is akin to a high-wire acrobat routine: the final result only looks good because of the countless number of stumbles in practice that the audience never sees.
How do children change this analogy? Writing with children is like practicing the high-wire high flying circus routine in preparation for the big night under the big top, except the animal trainers have let loose all the monkeys and I’m wearing a yellow leotard that looks suspiciously like a banana. Nothing makes me more fascinating to my children than the moment that I decide to start writing. My teenager will give me a hug and want to talk. The toddler will want to help me by pushing keys on the keyboard at random. The newborn will want human contact and decide that the only way he’s taking a nap is on my chest.
So how do I write with children? Not well, I fear. Most of my undertakings are short, confused, and sporadic. How I ever got a starred review in Publishers Weekly is a mystery to me. (Great editing and I wrote most of that novel with only one or two children, not the current three.) But how can one write successfully with children? Deadlines and editors.
I can’t write and hope to finish anything if I don’t have a firm deadline in mind for when I need to be done with it. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world if I miss it…. But if I don’t start with a finish date in mind, it’s never going to get finished. The acrobat knows they need to have their routine down by showtime. I know I need to have this done by 11 am Monday morning. The real difference between writers and authors is that authors finish what they start.
Great editors are the other thing I have going for me. People like Tina and Yelena at City Owl make for really good coaches when I’m practicing my routine and world-class netholders when the inevitable comes crashing down. I couldn’t do a high-wire act in a banana suit with monkeys without them… or publish a book. I’m talking about writing, right? I still have spit-up milk on my shirt. I think the monkeys are winning.
Joshua's first novel, Frostbite, is coming out in July.
"Well-researched and creatively presented humor and action perfectly blend with moral quandaries in this outstanding debut." - Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Follow Joshua on GoodReads