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“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 The Art of Confidence (Kensington)
PP: Describe your life in the context of writing, parenting and other employment?
WL: I’m a stay-at-home-mom to a two-year-old son. I also work from home as a freelance writer and book editor. We live in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, which is truly one of the most diverse places to live in the country.
PP: How do you integrate creative writing into your parenting/work responsibilities?
WL: I do most of my writing—paid and unpaid—in the evenings after my son goes to bed. I don’t really have any guaranteed time otherwise. My routine is mostly just jotting down notes from the day, whether it’s a half-formed idea or entire thoughts. At this point I’m still just trying to get back into the habit of writing for myself.
PP: What support/resources have you had access to?
WL: I think the most important thing that helps me in work-life balance is having a supportive partner. My husband also works from home, and while I’m the primary caregiver, he can step in if I need to finish up a project. What’s great about being a parent who writes is that you constantly have material. I feel at this age that my son is changing almost every day—learning new words, asserting new likes and dislikes—and I know I have to write everything down before I forget it.
PP: What’s challenging about it?
WL: The biggest challenge for me is feeling entitled to take time for my own writing. Aside from taking time from childcare to write, I also have to take time from the paid writing and editorial work that I do. I need to feel that my personal writing is as important as the other things that I contribute to my family and household.
PP: What advice would you offer other parents who write?
WL: I think it’s okay to not write for a long time after you have a child. It doesn’t mean you’re not laying down the foundation for writing; you’re still observing the world around you and learning from it. I didn’t really have that option because I was finishing a novel and editing it when my son was a newborn.
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Wendy Lee is the author of the novels The Art of Confidence, Across a Green Ocean, and Happy Family, which was named one of the top ten debuts of 2008 by Booklist and received an honorable mention from the Association of Asian American Studies. A graduate of New York University’s Creative Writing Program, she has worked as a book editor and an English teacher in China. She lives in Queens, New York. Her website is wendyleebooks.com.
The Pen Parentis Research Project is a series of interviews with parent authors in order to learn how they manage time, publish, earn a living, nurture creative community, and care for their kids. Initiated by Mary Harpin in 2017, the project will culminate in a book with stories, data, and helpful information that other parent writers can apply to their own lives.