The intersection between writing and parenthood is a perennial interest of mine. My own brood is modest, with only two boys, but the nature of parenthood comes up in my own book Storm Bride, and I’ve got great interest in anyone who manages with even more. David Walton manages a much larger number of children in his house, and still manages to write excellent books and win awards. Here’s David:
I have seven children. Yup, seven! The oldest is fourteen; the youngest is one and a half. Despite this, and a full-time job that pays most of the bills, I write science fiction novels.
When people hear that I have seven kids, they always ask, “When do you have time to write?” It’s a good question. When I get home from my job as an engineer each day, I spent my time making dinner, helping with homework, changing diapers, and putting kids to bed. If there’s time, I might take a walk with my wife or a run with my daughter. Most nights, my wife and I watch a show together before bed. So where does writing fit in?
Well, it kind of doesn’t. I don’t have a scheduled time to write. I don’t even have a designated place to write. When I get the chance–usually on weekends–I write in the living room or dining room, in the middle of everything. It?s a lively and clamorous place, full of fun and love… as well as chaos, noise, arguments, and demands for my attention. All of the standard requirements for a writing environment–a quiet place with no distractions or interruptions–don’t fit in my chosen life.
I can’t say it’s ideal. I could probably get more done in a quiet office. But then again, maybe I couldn’t. Before I had kids, I had significantly more time to write, but I spent a lot of that time agonizing over what to write, or else being distracted by this or that, because time was plentiful. Now, with so little time available, I find that I make much better use of the time I have.
What it comes down to, I suppose, is that although writing is very important to me, I’m a father and husband first. But that family immersion gives me a lot of fuel for my own stories. Many science fiction tales are about lone inventors or scientists, but I think families provide a stronger emotional stake and deeper relationship issues. My latest novel, SUPERPOSITION, is all about a family that gets swept up in murder and a wild new quantum physics technology. The family in the book has only three children instead of seven, but a lot of the energy of the character interactions come from my own home and experiences. The two primary characters are a father and his teenage daughter, a relationship that’s dear to my heart.
So, although having seven children doesn’t make me a more prolific writer, it might just make me a better one. Most people might think I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t trade my life for anything different.
David Walton is the author of the newly released novel SUPERPOSITION, a quantum physics murder mystery with the same mind-bending, breathless action as films like INCEPTION and MINORITY REPORT. His other works include the Philip K. Dick Award-winning TERMINAL MIND, the historical fantasy QUINTESSENCE (Tor, 2013) and its sequel, QUINTESSENCE SKY. You can read about his books and life at http://www.davidwaltonfiction.com/.
Buy Superposition: http://www.amazon.com/Superposition-David-Walton/dp/1633880125
This mirrors my experience — I wrote a good deal less when I had time, and I write a good deal more now that I’ve got little one keeping me on my toes.
I also write more now that I have kids. But I can’t decide if that’s because I’m just more disciplined now in general, or if having children specifically has something to do with it.