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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kids and Family--how do they inspire/impede your writing life?

I asked new MSFV success story author Elissa Cruz: "Elissa, I find that sometimes situations at home–with little kids–make for very good story material, maybe not directly, but through quirks and funny ideas that they have. I’d love to know a bit more about whether or not your kids have inspired some of your writing, and if so, do they inspire character quirks, or is it more little things that happen or little themes that creep into a story? Do you write things your kids would want to read, or do you write more for a distant ‘public’? I find sometimes that with kids, real-world stuff is crazier than fiction, so I have to scale back and make it look more ‘normal’ (since my family is anything BUT normal). Does this ever happen to you?
Also, what’s some good advice for a newly-wed on getting married as a writer–especially to someone who doesn’t always want to read your stuff? Does your hubby read what you write? And, if not, what’s a good way to let him into your whole writing life?"

Elissa wrote: "Jen Veldhuyzen–My kids have inspired my writing, though mostly through abstract ways. For example, until recently I homeschooled my kids, so I have a humorous manuscript about a homeschooling family. Nothing about the book came from my kids other than the idea of how a family together all day would act with each other. I’ve also watched my young daughter chase butterflies across the yard, and that was the catalyst I needed for a contemporary coming-of-age tale I’m currently working on.

And, to be honest, I tend to draw more from my own experiences as a child, and then I watch the way my kids and their friends act to make sure my experiences would be relevant (and interesting) to kids today. So this also means I write for me first, or for the kid I used to be (and still am deep inside). I figure if the kid in me doesn’t like the story, I can’t expect anyone else to like it, either.

As for your questions about newlyweds and writers, I actually can’t get anyone in my family to read my work! My husband is a great supporter, but he’s just not interested in reading the type of things I write. And even though I have three MG-aged kids, none of them are excited about curling up with a Word document. :) I suspect once I have a published book that might change. So honestly, I think it’s more important that your spouse or other family members support you in ways other than reading your work. Do they give you the time and space you need to write? Do they encourage you to finish that last chapter or attend that writing conference? Do they proudly tell everyone they know that you write books and are going to be a famous author some day? If you can get that kind of support and encouragement from family, then you’ll be okay. Besides, in most cases family members aren’t the best judges of your work. They are great as cheerleaders. But critiquers? Not so much. :)"

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