On Writing & Fatherhood
Writing is hard.
Being a father is much much harder - and I’m not even talking about being a good father (whatever that means).
But somehow, after I decided to write a book for my daughters, both writing and being a father became easier.
I’m not saying that I’m now immune to irrational tantrums and disruptive sleep on a nightly basis - that part about fatherhood is still hard; but I’ve been finding it much easier to enjoy fatherhood.
For example, Madison really enjoys coloring and likes it when I color with her. I used to get anxious while doing this...Game of thrones is on...I could be catching up on work...I just want to lounge on the couch and take a nap...
These days, I just color with her. Sometimes I’ll sit back and think about how in about 12 years, I’ll be fighting to get her attention. We’ll have a different relationship then, but she’ll have her own friends, interests and pursuits (love). Coloring with dad will probably be at the bottom of that list.
I'm starting to wonder if most parents experience a sense of sadness or loss when their kids get older or “bigger.” I know I probably will.
So how did writing a children’s book change me?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but haven’t had time to do it creatively in many years. It was hard to get back into it at first since professional writing is principally about conveying information, while creative writing requires more art and emotion (to some degree). When shooting off work emails, I’m often either feeling angry or apathetic. When writing a sentence in a children’s book, it’s a task to list all the emotions I experience. Very often, I’d have writer’s block because of this; the enormity of what's in front of me: a mountain of feelings and white screen with no text.
The book I’m currently writing is an interpretation of my experience as a father. Like this blog post, the book contains a lot of emotions. Hopefully, if I do it well, whoever reads it to their children will sense it. After spending 3 years reading various children’s books every night, I’ve learned that the good children’s books are as much for the adults as for the children (see The Giving Tree, Where the Wild Things Are).
Writing this book is a constant reminder for me of how awesome children are. Their default state is happiness and they learn and grow everyday. For a lot of my adult life, my default state had always been apathy and I frequently enjoyed distractions more than exploration.
But I’ve started growing up again recently.
Gotta go, Madison wants me to color with her now.