While the friends of my children think it’s “cool” that I’m an author, my children often shake their head in disagreement. In fact, they sometimes wish I were a “normal” mom. (At least, that’s what they say. I don’t believe they mean it. Nah, they really don’t mean it. I’m pretty sure of that.) This statement usually comes when they tell me they’re bored. I respond with, “Write a book in your head. That’s always fun.” I then get an eye roll and frown, but I continue to try to pull a story from them.
Since I’m a lover of fantasy, our conversation usually shifts to me probing for what kind of creature could be hidden around us. Then I go into why they’re hiding. Unless we’re stuck in the car together or in a place where my children can’t walk away, they’re pretty much forced to listen to my fantasy ramblings. Otherwise, they walk away shaking their heads. Oh, and saying, “Mom, you’re not normal.” I smile and remind them to strive to be different.
They sometimes entertain me, though. It’s rare, but it’s beautiful when they do. I get to witness their imaginations go wild when they start describing creatures or going into a short story.
In fact, my thirteen-year-old daughter helped design the creatures I’ll be introducing in my fourth novel, Unexpected Beginning. We were on a family backpacking trip on Cumberland Island. The first day our little ones walked nine miles carrying their own bedding and supplies. The complaints of boredom started right after we got off the ferry, and I told them I needed help creating the creatures for my next book. They dismissed me at first, but hours later, my oldest daughter decided to walk beside me. We started talking about the book, and she surprised me with her creativity. I’m making a few changes, but her ideas are where I got the basic design for my latest creatures.
Then there’s my seven-year-old son. He was in bed with me one morning when he was about five years old. He told me he wanted to be a cover designer when he grew up, and then he began to tell me what his covers would look like.
He was with me the other night while I was doing some editing, and he picked up my warm tea and took a sip, looking over my shoulder. Then he said, “I think that word should be grin instead of smile, because it shows more extreme in the situation.” I made the change (it did flow better), and my son beamed with happiness.
He then challenged me to write a children’s book. I informed him that I kill people in my writing. He shook his head and told me I couldn’t do that. I told him to think of a story and then come back to me with a plot. I started giving him ideas, but he didn’t agree with any of them. It seems losing an arm, a dog dying, having all of one’s Legos stollen, etc. aren’t good stories in his opinion.
I told him that it’s my job to give my characters extreme happiness and extreme pain to even out the story. If I give a character Legos, then I need to kill his dog. That’s how I write. At this time, my son’s plots are a bit different. I’ll continue to work on that.
As for my middle daughter, she’s informed me that she hates writing (although I’ve found stories from both her and her sister that they’ve started). However, she’s an extreme fantasy reader, with dragons being her favorite. (Just like her mother!) I have faith that she’s filled with stories of her own. She’s just not interested in sharing them.
Let me know in the comments section below some of the creative conversations you’ve had with your children. Surely, we’re not the only family pulling creatures out of our heads 🙂