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We who are about to breed: Mark Brand.

October 5, 2011 \am\31 8:13 am

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

NAME: Mark Brand.
1. What are your kids’ names, ages? 
I have a son named John, who is four and a half and already training to be a ninja.
2. How do you balance your time between parenting and writing?
An intricate series of pulleys, flywheels and fulcrums, with brute force provided by my infinitely patient wife.
3. What is the best piece of advice about being a parent and a writer?
With a little one at home, every minute you spend writing is a minute spent not playing, not working, and not taking care of yourself (physically for sure, but sometimes just mentally unwinding), all of which have consequences.  The stakes shoot up considerably.  The end result is that when you do write, you tell stories as if tomorrow someone’s going to break your fingers and rip out your tongue.  It’s intense, and the work is better.
4. How has your writing changed since becoming a parent?
When I look back now at the things I wrote when I was just regular Mark, not John’s Dad, I sometimes find myself shaking my head at how superficial some of the characters come off, and how much I lazily relied on the reader to fill in the blanks of any given character’s motivations.  These things I find are much more prominent in my mind now, as well as a somewhat healthier respect for internal logic and plausibility.  I think it has more to do with the way I perceive other people’s work than any conscious evolution of technical skill on my part.  When I write, I find myself gravitating more toward things that have tighter internal logic and plausibility because fatherhood involves just an endless campaign of problem-solving, and after you’ve been a parent for a while things that don’t hold water are painfully obvious.
5. Tell us something we don’t know about you and being a writer-slash-parent.
I’m really fortunate to have two huge things on my side that help when I feel like I’m running out of steam or like I don’t have the pure force of will to stay up till 4AM again working on some new manuscript.  The first thing is that my son, young though he is, likes many of the same things I do.  He likes sci-fi and cool historical things and museums and books and storytelling with creative, imaginative play, and so I’m lucky that I can constantly immerse myself in the sorts of everyday things that enrich my own imagination, without necessarily disrupting the harmony of my family.  The second thing is that my wife, who as I mentioned before is very patient and understanding of the time and effort needed to put into my work, is herself a writer/reader and very knowledgable about many of the parts of literature that I’m still getting caught up on.  I don’t mean to paint an idyllic picture, because for sure there are conflicts between writing and my family life, mostly sheerly due to the number of hours in a day, but inasmuch as I can make that balance happen, my wife and son are on my side and both drive my work in positive ways.
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2 Comments
  1. Sarah permalink
    October 5, 2011 \pm\31 6:21 pm 6:21 pm

    As a parent-slash-parent, I am always in awe of Mr. Mark Brand. I knew regular Mark during his “Early Mark” period and can see how he has evolved as a writer/person/parent, it is impressive. Any person that has the ability to express themselves in an intelligent and interesting way is an asset to our society. Finding a way to do so while forming a child into a person that is an 
    asset as well is a truly noble thing. History has shown us that any human being can create a child, but not all can be parents. Many of our most beloved and interesting artists felt justified in using their calling as a reason to be a shit parent, that their child was a small sacrifice to pay to share their gifts with the world. Fighting to be a Good Parent while being a successful author is a truly spectacular thing! I truly enjoy Mark’s work as a writer and I never take for granted the difficulty he must face to get any project off the ground. I can barely put together a cohesive grocery list, and I do absolutely nothing! Kudos, Sir! Kudos.

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