I am delighted to be part of “The Case of the Exploding Loo” Book Blog Tour. And even more excited to have Rachel Hamilton guest posting on my blog. I’ll hand you over to Rachel.
I was thrilled when I heard Susan had agreed to be part of the blog tour for ‘The Case of the Exploding Loo’ because being a mum has been a huge part of my writing journey and I was looking forward to writing a post about the challenges and opportunities of being an Author-Mum.
I should begin by introducing my three babies (the one on the right is only a few days old, but the two on the left are now 11 and 9).
I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember, but nothing came of my early efforts and I think that’s because, back then, I felt like I had all the time in the world to write my books. It was only when I had children and my days were no longer entirely my own that I began carving out time for the things that mattered to me – like writing.
Plus, in those early ‘mum’ days, my brain wasn’t entirely my own either, so I learnt the value of notebooks. I recommend them to anyone trying to write, but particularly to mums, because it’s so easy to forget the little moments that make you laugh each day and things that seem silly at the time can get your brain whirring later.
Having children also forces you to dig into your memory for stories and jokes to entertain them with. During one of our ‘most disgusting thing ever’ competitions, I remembered the poo-gulper machine operator who pressed ‘blow’ instead of ‘suck’. And The Case of the Exploding Loo was born.
So, being a mum has definitely made me a better writer.
But I’m sometimes worry that being a writer hasn’t always made me a better mum.
These worries hit me when I look up from my laptop and realise that while I’ve been solving a particularly complicated part of the plot, the kids have smeared themselves in jam, chocolate sauce and my favourite lipstick and then rolled all over the new sofas.
But for those of you trying to write with young children, I offer this reassurance. My two have survived to see their eleventh and ninth birthdays, relatively unscarred. And the sofas are still with us – underneath huge washable throws.
While my kids may struggle with the rules of the extra-curricular sports (“Why do Americans play cricket with caveman clubs?”) my childrearing philosophy of benign neglect has given them an invaluable opportunity missing in the lives of so many children today – the opportunity to be soooo bored they’re forced to develop their own imaginations.
For anyone struggling to combine babies and book-writing, here are a few ideas. I’d hate to call them ‘tips’ because that makes it sound like I know what I’m doing!
1) Help your children develop a lifelong love of literature so they value the time you spend writing
The easiest way to do this is to stuff your home full of books. We have over 3000 books in our house (I know this because my husband made me count them as part of his fight to stop them taking over the entire place).
Another trick is to make reading a priority in the family. As a child, I was allowed to escape horrible household chores like laying the table or washing the dishes if I was absorbed in a good book (and at least 70% of the time, I wasn’t faking it!)
2) Make authors accessibly inspiring
Authors, particularly children’s authors, love to hear from readers. When your children are old enough to write – or to make video/audio recordings with your help – encourage them to let their favourite authors know what they think of their books. There’s nothing more exciting for a child than hearing from a favourite writer. One of the highlights of my son’s year was having Neil Gaiman retweet his review of ‘Fortunately, The Milk’ with a little note of appreciation:
3) Include your kids in what you do
I asked my daughter to perform a two minute comedy routine she’d written about having an Author Mum, at my book launch party. Then my son wrote yesterday’s post for the blog tour at Nayu’s Reading Corner. Not only does this make the children feel included, but they’ve also come up with brilliant content for me!
I brainstorm ideas for the books with them and they’ve both proofread early drafts (although my son grumbled about it). They also love it when they get a mention in interviews or in posts like this, so ‘hello, kids!’
4) Acknowledge that sometimes you will be a little useless and find ways to make it up to them
When things calm down with the writing I try to do something fun with the kids – a trip to the beach, a rope-climbing adventure or a little weekend break somewhere. Also, I make sure they know I appreciate the support they give me the rest of the time, because as I explain in the dedication, The Case of the Exploding Loo is:
Thank you Rachel for stopping by today. And don’t forget to check out Sister Spooky tomorrow.
This post is protected under copyright. SusankMann 2009 – 2014