Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


I Don't Know

This is the first post I haven't had an answer for. I really don't know what I'd be doing if I were not writing.

In college I was a political science major with an emphasis on political philosophy. After graduation I took the test for Law School, but before I applied, I talked with people who were lawyers or in law school. Talking with them, I realized that I didn't want to be a lawyer.

I ran a political campaign and, even though we won, I realized I didn't want to run political campaigns.

I began working with adults with developmental disabilities and children with autism and ended up doing that for over ten years. I also became a dad and got to spend a lot of time at home with my daughter. All of this was excellent preparation for writing for children and going into schools.

I still love my politics and enjoy following the law. I still go back to the political philosophers who influenced the way I see the world. But I'm a writer and I love going into schools to talk with students about writing. I can't imagine doing anything else now.



I blog on a Thursday. This is a Thursday. Lauren's Thursday. My Thursday was last Thursday. So, please, read Lauren's post before mine. Hers are always better, anyway.

In my other life I was a mathematician. I am told by my old--very old--classmates that I was always good at math. "Always" means "back then"" because I have forgotten most of it.

When I was studying math in college, my sister Lisette (you have heard about her, my sister, the school principal) cried because she thought she would lose her boyfriends because I was studying math and math was for boys.

When I went to Colegio de Mayaguez (today University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus) to get a master's in math, we were just two women in the depatment. The rest were men. Soon, however, the statistics flipped.

After I got the degree, I taught math for seven years at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey Campus. Then I decided to go for the PhD at the University of Connecticut. I had finished the course work and began my thesis when boila! I met a cute mathematician. This past Monday we celebrated our 35th anniversary. Neither of us finished the PhD. We are glad we didn't. He didn't want to teach, and I ended up using the other side of my brain.

Actually, no. I use both sides, because to plot a story you need logic. And what is logic but math?

So, to the question what would I do if not writing, I answer that I would be teaching math. But then I would be a grouchy teacher. Because, when I am not writing, I get grouchy!

The See-Saw Life

Ever since the topic of "What would you be or do, if you were not a writer or writing?"came up, I have been wrestling with my answer. You see, I am not primarily a writer. In fact, most of my schooling and adult years have been devoted to practicing and exploring in the world of visual arts. Therefore, for myself, I will reframe the question and ask: "What would I be or do, if I were not a children's book illustrator or painter?" and my immediate answer is-- a writer! Yes, I have fallen in love with many endeavors other than writing or painting throughout my life- gardening still holds fast to my heart and before having kids, I dreamed of moving to the country and opening an herb farm. I love cutting things out of wood and assembling them into something that moves- wooden toys. I would love to be a toymaker, probably taking up a nomadic life, following art fairs and Renaissance Fairs around the country, selling my wooden toys in a colorful wooden booth on wheels. But every time I read a poem, I want to take up the life of a poet and every time I read a great novel, whether middle grade, YA, or adult, I am moved to work on my writing, taking time each day from my drawing and painting to devote to writing. I feel like a single-celled amoeba trying to become two separate selves while retaining the nucleus of life energy in both. It's a see-saw life!


No Choice, Really

If I weren’t writing, what would I do? I have no idea. Writing has been part of my world since I wrote my first “screenplay” with a buddy in seventh grade (a vampire thriller set in the horse barn across the street from our house). Short stories, poems, songs, essays and novels – in various genres -- have followed. During it all I have also pursued a career in mental health working with children and their families, mixed in with various other temporary gigs that include being a caretaker of a 600-acre farm and, for a few years, being the “tie-dye kingpin” of South Seattle and Fairbanks. I took these other jobs because they offered a break from the routines and stress of the mental health field but also because they afforded me more time for writing. A few years back, I chose to take a contract at a local school to work four hours a day for full-time money – again, to allow for more writing time without taking from my family time.

So, for me, I’ve already been doing the “other” stuff I’d be doing if I wasn’t writing: working to pay the bills, helping to run the house, playing with my wife and son, and sailing in the summers. I need a creative outlet to retain my own mental health, so I suppose the only real variable is the form that creativity takes. If I ever give up on writing for kids, I guess I could always try to get the old rock-n-roll band back together . . .