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We who are about to breed: Evan Mandery.

September 28, 2011 \am\30 8:00 am

[In which WWAATD asks writers and other artist types about life as breeders/parents/kid-keepers.]

Name: Evan Mandery

1. What are your kids’ names, ages?  

Suria, 10.  Eamon, 8.  Mattie, 2.

2. How do you balance your time between parenting and writing?

I write every day between eight o’clock in the morning and one o’clock in the afternoon.  Sometimes, when I heavy into a project, as I have been for the past year, I write also in the afternoons and weekends.  I find that my marginal productivity level decreases when I work this hard, but I cannot write any faster than I do, the only way to accelerate progress is to add hours.  I am lucky to be able to do much of my writing at home, and every hour or so, I go downstairs and play with my baby daughter.  In the afternoons, we go to the playground or play Go Away Monster.

Mandery's "Q" is one of our favorite new books around here.

3.    What is the best piece of advice about being a parent and a writer? 

Being a writer must be treated as a job.  It is infinitely better than any ordinary job, to be sure.  Every day is different, no one yells at you, and in the end one has something to show for his or her effort.   But to succeed at writing, one must be disciplined and allowed the freedom to think and create.  Accountants have time and space to do their job, and writers must too.  I must add that I have the broadest possible definition of success.  My advice holds true whether one writes for joy, therapy, pecuniary gain, or the innumerable reasons people write.  If you’re going to do it as well as you can, you need to be able to do it without interruption for some time every day.  An hour a day is enough to produce a book in a year – but there needs to be that time.

4. How has your writing changed since becoming a parent?

I’m a happier person, which I think makes me a better writer.

5. Tell us something we don’t know about you and being a writer-slash-parent.

I’m not sure the writer/parent designation is useful.  Your child doesn’t care whether you write, and your publisher doesn’t care whether you’re a parent.  Individually, though, these are the best titles one could want.  “Parent” is the best of all.  It means that your life is entwined with the well beings of others.  “Writer” means that you’re interested in ideas, the exchange of ideas, and the human condition.  Owning both these titles must be doubly good.  Being a writer/child is pretty good, too, though.  For father’s day, my daughter Mattie drew on a card for me.  Uninitiated observers might not have understood what she wrote, but to me her message came through clearly and elegantly.

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