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“When you’re well-prepared and well-stocked and the kid is sleeping through the night, that is when you can figure out what time you have for yourself and your art.”
-Ed Lin, Author of Ghost Month
PP: Describe your life in the context of writing, parenting and other employment (if applicable).
EL: I edit business news at Barrons.com, the online counterpart of the financial weekly. I usually go to the midtown Manhattan office but I have worked remotely upon occasion. We have one son, now two and a half years old. My wife, who is an actress, usually cares for our son during the weekdays, aided by grandparents and sitters at times. When she has auditions, she either brings our son or arranges for someone to watch him. When she is in a longer-term show on stage, she can care for him while I’m at work and then we switch off in the early evening so she can make her curtain call.
We live in Brooklyn in the decidedly unhip Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.
PP: How do you integrate creative writing into your parenting/work responsibilities?
EL: During the weekdays, I write after work a night or two. I share a writing office with a friend at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. On the weekends, I can grab a few hours Saturday and Sunday after caring for my son for a few hours.
I like to start my day by playing pinball on my laptop (Jinni Zeala) for a few rounds to get the adrenaline going and I also appreciate how pinball itself is an activity in which one must use skill and self-belief to overcome a number of random factors (game tilting, ball heading straight down between flippers, ball sliding into gutter). Writing requires the same confidence. After writing an hour or two, I like to buy groceries and head home.
“Balancing requires constant maintenance and the juggling and running around never stops. It’s never boring and I feel that I’m adding to the life experiences that I will later mine for my fiction.”
PP: What’s awesome about being a parent who writes?
EL: I’ve been a member of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop since 1992 and I have an invaluable base of friends through it. I’m also a member of the Mystery Writers of America and have many friends through it, as well.[Regarding work-life balance] I feel that there is no stasis—that balancing requires constant maintenance and the juggling and running around never stops. It’s never boring and I feel that I’m adding to the life experiences that I will later mine for my fiction.
I love seeing my son smile, laugh and learn makes me feel like I’m discovering the magic in the world all over again.
PP:What’s challenging about it?
EL: It’s never easy and I go to sleep wishing I could write more, but that is how I’ve always felt. It’s basically finding time that is the big thing. That means cutting back on other things like video games and hanging out, really. We used to love going out for dinner and live jazz and now I can’t remember the last time we did that.
I could always use more sleep. Pre-Pen Parentis, I’ve known a few other parent-writers and we get together once a quarter or so and there’s so much I can intuit just from talking to them.
“I really thought that things would be worse, that I would have zero time to write and luckily that hasn’t proven to be true.”
PP: What’s your advice for other parents who write?
EL: Honestly, I would have to say that I was fairly warned and knew pretty much exactly what was going to happen. I really thought that things would be worse, that I would have zero time to write and luckily that hasn’t proven to be true.
Don’t put anything off. Empty that diaper pail when it’s almost full, don’t wait for the milk to run out before buying more. If you’re raising a child with a partner, don’t wait to be asked—try to be proactive and act accordingly. When you’re well-prepared and well-stocked and the kid is sleeping through the night, that is when you can figure out what time you have for yourself and your art.
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Ed Lin is a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent. He is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards. Lin’s latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in 2014. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.
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 busy lives. Support the project with a contribution to the Pen Parentis crowdfunding campaign.