We who are about to breed: Erin Fitzgerald.
[In which WWAATD asks writers and other artist types about life as breeders/parents/kid-keepers.]
1. What is your kid’s name, age?
I have a ten-year-old daughter. She’ll be eleven soon, and she makes a mean duct tape wallet.
2. How do you balance your time between parenting and writing?
It gets easier as time goes on. At first, early bedtimes, a completely awesome fellow parent, and having a pen at all times were key. These days, it’s slightly different. On the parenting side, I try to make time at least once or twice a day where she has my full attention. On the writer side, I am willing to be interrupted–and I know that when I can’t be interrupted, I have to plan for that. (See previously mentioned completely awesome fellow parent.)
Also: I have one of those kids who is eerily easygoing and well-behaved. As a result, I introduced her to coffee shops at a very young age. Each of us packs a bag with a notebook, pens, books. She draws and reads, I write, we play tic tac toe or Hangman and pound down smoothies/mochas all the while. Some of her first experiences with handling money were getting us snacks from the glass case at Starbucks. I’m well aware all of this might turn into utter embarrassment on her part soon, so I’m enjoying it while I can.
3. What is the best piece of advice about being a parent and a writer?
Same as the best pieces of advice about dieting and religion. Nod and smile when you’re told what to do, but do what works for you. Understand that circumstances will change, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. If everyone makes it to the end of the day, you’ve succeeded in at least one very important way, and bonus, possibly others.
4. How has your writing changed since becoming a parent?
I stopped worrying about getting things exactly the way I thought someone else wanted them, as a parent and as a writer. Probably at first because I was too tired to care, and later out of confidence in my methods. It’s probably also worth mentioning that before I was a parent, I didn’t write very much flash fiction at all. That said, I don’t think it’s an easier form to write. It’s just easier to shove in my purse than a novel manuscript.
5. Tell us something we don’t know about you and being an artist- or writer-slash-parent.
I didn’t think I would ever write my daughter into a story, but this year I did. When she finds out how–a celebrity she’s never heard of reads her Harry Potter books while she’s playing Xbox–she’ll be disappointed. But then she’ll think that getting someone to do that is a good idea…