Since I was about nine years old, it’s been a dream of mine to be a published author. Somewhere in my parents’ basement is probably a few trees’ worth of notebooks with strange stories scrawled in them in my bad childhood handwriting (which has only gotten worse after 10+ years of owning a laptop). I forgot about this as I got older, pursuing a business/public policy major in college and a management consulting career afterwards (an exciting career, a great way to make a living, and not a part of my life that’s over) to avoid becoming the “starving artist”. I was writing maybe once a week – some chicklit, some children’s, some sci-fi… all over the board with genres.
In 2011, I took a hiatus from my career due to a geographic move/having my son. I read to my son every day, but the one consistent thorn in my side was a lack of books with families that looked like ours. My husband is black, I am white, and I hated/still hate feeling like with 99% of the books out there, I have to choose whether I want to read to my son about a black family OR a white family. At not even a year old, my son may not notice, but I do and one day, so will he. Books that are centered around”it’s OK that your parents love each other… no really, it is”, while definitely an invaluable resource, should not be the only books out there about multi-racial families. I wanted books that showed either multi-racial families and/or people of different races being friends where their heritage was not a central theme. I asked anyone – librarians, my son’s pediatrician, friends/relatives in interracial marriages – for reccommendations for such books. I was reccommended a couple, but got mostly blank stares.
I couldn’t get out of my mind one of the best work/life balance tips I’ve ever gotten, from a much-admired work friend turned life friend who had a baby as a teenager. By the time I met her some years later, she was a superoveracheiver as both a careerwoman and as a mom. She let her daughter be her biggest motivator rather than something that held her back.
So letting my son be my motivator, I picked up my writing again, this time focusing on children. I joined the fabulous SCBWI Cen-Cal chaper, attended workshops, got into a critique group, all of which has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for *me*. Of course, I haven’t quite yet written a book my son might enjoy; my current pet project is a midde grade novel about a 12 year old girl (she happens to be black/white biracial, but it’s not a central theme to the story), that I’m right now trying to push on publishers and agents. But I’ve got another middle grade “boy” book percolating. We shall see…