“What’s great about being a parent who writes is that you constantly have material. ... I know I have to write everything down before I forget it.” ~Wendy Lee, author...
“It’s just nice to feel a close connection with a person who is part of you, to experience that love, which finds it’s way into characters and situations in my work…”
~Stewart Lewis, author of Stealing Candy (Sourcebooks Fire)
PP: Describe your life in the context of writing, parenting and other employment (if applicable).
SL: I work all the time, at home, or while travelling. The greatest invention of all time, in my opinion, is the Macbook Air. I have worked in bed, on planes, in my friend’s houses, on the beach, you name it. I have ten year old daughter named Rowan, and I live in an urban environment most of the year, and at a beach house for the summer months.
PP: How do you integrate creative writing into your parenting/work responsibilities?
SL: It varies, but I teach two days a week part time at the University of Maryland. Other than that my schedule is wide open. I always write “fresh” material in the morning, for at least two hours. Then in the afternoon I go back and edit. Writing is re-writing.
PP: What’s awesome about being a parent who writes?
SL: I have the support of my husband, and Rowan has occasional playdates and does horseback riding and trapeze school to allow me to have time to write. Setting goals, like selling a book every year, helps me achieve work-life balance? I call it, “staying on the bus.” I feel better as a person when I am accomplishing work.
My daughter recently saw that a mother of one of her friends was reading one of my books. I was instantly “cooler” in her eyes. That was rewarding. It’s also just nice to feel a close connection with a person who is part of you, to experience that love, which finds it’s way into characters and situations in my work.
PP: What do you struggle with?
SL: There are times when she just doesn’t want me to work. Kids need a crazy amount of attention. That is sometimes a struggle, especially if on deadline.
PP: What do you need?
SL: Lots of good food/drink which I refer to as “Fuel” – protein, green juice, healthy snacks (and yes, a glass of wine or two). Patience, ambition, love.
PP: What do you wish you would have known in the beginning? What’s your advice for other parents who write?
SL: How many buttons kids know how to push. How selfless you have to be as a parent. How much work it is (always more than you pictured). Draw boundaries, and make sure you have time to write. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Kids need to learn to have their own time as well.
PP: How has parenting and writing changed as your children have grown?
SL: I’ve become a better person because of Rowan, for sure. It has taught me a lot of patience. If anything, I want to work harder and be more successful to set a good example for her, and to be able to provide for her.
PP: What else would you like to add on this subject?
SL: More than anything, I want Rowan to read books, and not spend her whole formative years staring at a screen. She has gotten into a fantasy series and is on the fourth book. While it’s not the genre I write, I am thrilled that she is reading. I told her it will make her smarter. She doesn’t like to listen to dad much, but I think she deeply respects that I am a writer, and she even writes herself sometimes. I have yet to read her work, but I’m waiting with baited breath.
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Stewart Lewis (@stewartlewis) is a singer songwriter and young adult author whose work has been translated into five languages. He lives in Washington DC and Nantucket Ma. For More information, please visit www.stewartlewis.com
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.