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“There’s a maturity about life that comes through in the writing/art when the writer/artist is a parent …”
~John Reed, author of A Still Small Voice (Delacorte Press/Delta)
PP: Describe your life in the context of writing, parenting and other employment (if applicable).
JR: I’m faculty at The New School in the MFA in Creative Writing, and I advise for the New York Arts Program, and I’m a parent, and I’m some kind of writer. I have a boy: 10 and Girl: 13. We live in Hell’s Kitchen.
PP: How do you integrate creative writing into your parenting/work responsibilities?
JR: My schedule is bonkers. I will work at any time, anywhere, on anything.
PP: What’s awesome about being a parent who writes?
JR: Haha. Self reliance? I do think there’s a maturity about life that comes through in the writing/art when the writer/artist is a parent. Usually, of course, but not always.
PP: What’s challenging about it?
JR: Money. Taking the literary world seriously. Needing time.
PP: What do you wish you would have known in the beginning?
JR: King size bed. La Leche.
PP: What tips can you offer other parents who write?
JR: King size bed. La Leche.
PP: How has parenting and writing changed as your children have grown?
JR: It’s getting easier!
PP: What else would you like to add on this subject?
JR: Having kids, at a practical level, makes one more concise and directed. Of course, one also has much better access to characters who are parents or children. On
the flip side, because the arts can be viewed in a market context of fantasy fulfillment, a more complete perspective on life isn’t necessarily a more lucrative perspective.
* * *
John Reed is author of the novels, A Still Small Voice (Delacorte Press / Delta), The Whole (Simon & Schuster / Pocket / MTV Books), the SPD bestseller, Snowball’s Chance (Roof Books / Melville House); additional books: All The World’s A Grave: A New Play By William Shakespeare (Poetry / Drama, Penguin Books / Plume); Tales of Woe (Non-Fiction / Illustrated, MTV Press); and Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems (Poetry, C&R Press); fellowship Columbia University; MFA in Creative Writing, Columbia University; published in (selected) Artnet, the Brooklyn Rail, Tin House, Paper Magazine, Artforum, Hyperallergic, Bomb Magazine, Art in America, the PEN Poetry Series, the Los Angeles Times, the Believer, the Rumpus, the Daily Beast, Gawker, Slate, the Paris Review, the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street Journal, ElectricLit, Vice, The New York Times, Harpers; anthologized in Best American Essays (Houghton Mifflin), Devouring the Green (Jaded Ibis), StoryScape Anthology V2, American Wasteland (CLMP), The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology (Hanging Loose), Vitamin PH (Phaidon), 100 Greatest Albums (VH1); Vice Magazine “Employee of the Month,” Longform’s #1 Most Entertaining Essay; works translated into German, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Latvian and others; performances, workshops and readings of plays in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas, including at the Public Theater in NYC and the Brooklyn Books Festival; two-term member of the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle; current faculty at The New School University and The New York Arts Program.
(Photo courtesy of Natalie Keyssar)
The Pen Parentis Research Project is a series of interviews with parent authors in order to learn how they mange time, publish, earn a living, nurture creative community, and care for their kids. Managed by Mary Harpin, the project will culminate in a book with stories, data, and helpful information that other parent writers can apply to their own lives.