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We who are about to breed: Laurel Snyder.

September 29, 2011 \am\30 11:00 am

I flipped this photo so we can see the Rumpus 'write like a motherfucker' mug--DN.

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

Name: Laurel Snyder

1. What are your kids’ names, ages?

Mose Benjamin Snyder Poma (5.5) and Lewis Abraham Snyder Poma (4) A waiter once asked their names, and then (fishing for a bigger tip, I think) told me “they sound like they’ll grow up to be novelists.” I told the waiter I was hoping for a contractor and a mechanic.

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

Balance? What’s that? Honestly, I don’t think there’s a way to comfortably balance two things that fully occupy the same space. My kids and my writing are like a ball of yarn that’s gotten so knotted I can’t tell anymore if there’s one piece of yarn in there or two. I work really hard to create arbitrary borders between the parts of my life (space, hours, etc). I recently built a writing cottage in the yard to try to keep the peanut butter and Legos off my computer. But in the end, the school can always call and interrupt my writing when they need to. And my editor can always call and interrupt a game of checkers when she needs to. It feels like life is a daily process of playing, “which thing do I mind screwing up the least today?” That said, I’m happier and more prolific than I’ve ever been. Just super tired. Go figure.

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

I try to remind myself daily that the most ingredient for a healthy child is a sane relaxed parent. Not a homemade birthday cake or an elaborate Halloween costume or a clean house or a hot dinner. We eat a lot of tuna fish here. And when I start to feel sleep deprived or anxious, I take some time for myself, escape for a minute. I stop seeing people who make me anxious. I cancel events. We prioritize the kids over the work, and then the work over the rest of it.

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

Well, I’ve become a children’s author for one, but that wasn’t exactly *because* I became a parent. The timing was just funny. But I think the main thing is that I’ve become much more disciplined. I write every day. I used to think of writing as work, and then, when I’d done my “work” I’d relax. Now I think of the writing as the reward. It’s nice, actually. The other big thing is that I don’t have the writing social life I used to. I don’t go to readings and parties, or take weekends in New York for fun. I miss that. I hope to do more of that as the boys get older. But for now, most of my social writing life is online.

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

Ha. I feel like I’ve blogged so much everyone knows anything. But I guess the “personal” thing right now for me is that I have begun publishing so many picture books and children’s novels, I worry I’m losing the part of my brain that writes poems. Like atrophy. I dream of taking a year to refocus that part of me. Maybe a colony would help, to be around other poets for a bit. But again, that’s years in the future.

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