Malia Kawaguchi – You’re Not My Real Daughter!

Oh man, y’all. We have a treat this week in the Parenting & Writing blog series. If you’ve ever felt like your writing was even more demanding than your own children, this is the one.

Lia Kawaguchi is a Speculative Fiction writer with a blog (, a great kid, a patient husband, an excel spreadsheet of currently-out-for-submission pieces, and one pro sale in Daily Science Fiction last year. She splits her time between writing, volunteering at her kid’s choice elementary school, and planning the family’s two-month sabbatical in Australia this fall. This split is not equal. G’day.


You’re not my real daughter! You can’t tell me what to do!

So, my kid hates my book.

This is neither a shock, nor the end of the world. It’s a comedic book about a troll girl, and she’s all into heavy emotional realistic novels right now. (She’s ten, going on John Green.) And it’s not like she actually said that she hates it. She definitely tried to let me down easy. “It’s really good, mom! I know people in my class that would totally love it.”

Yeah, right, poison spawn. I know that condescending tone. I taught it to you.

I suppose it’s to be expected, though. It’s just sibling rivalry. She knows my writing is my other child.

The written word has taken my attention away from her since day 1. One of the first pictures we have as a family is of me reading a book over her nursing head. She’s quite often been stationed on one of my knees while the computer had the other. And the “Mama, I need you/…I’ll be right there as soon as I finish this chapter” conversation has taken place in this house more times than I can count.

She’s always been tolerant of my literary tendencies. Not that there aren’t perks to the distracted mom. My attendance at cons and classes has allowed her to develop a lovely and deep relationship with her father. Bedtime stories were never boring, as I have the ability (okay… need) to veer off the track if she seemed to be getting disinterested in what was actually on the page (okay… if I was). My “one more sentence” mantra has allowed her to become proficient at microwaving her own dinner, reading to herself, and small appliance repair. She is quite the accomplished kiddo, and I’ve got a whole trunk full of reasons why.

She has learned to share me with her sibling.

But as someone who mostly tends to write darker stuff than I intend, (oh, no, darling, mommy can’t read to you from her book. Why? Um, well… it’s for grown ups. Yes. Just like alcohol) it was truly an amazing thing to have a full-blown middle grade idea pop into my head while she was exactly the right age to appreciate it.

And does she? No, she does not.

Silly human child. Why can’t you be more like Short Story Tentatively Titled “Death Stalks The Editor Who Won’t Buy Me”? It thinks I’m an awesome writer. It says so right at the top of page 3.

Okay, so, the flesh child has benefits. Smells better, definitely. Fewer paper cuts when I cuddle her, by far. And seems to be getting smarter and funnier by the day, which is the exact opposite of my work.

And she’s turning into a pretty fine writer herself. At conference, we got a chance to peek at some of her in school writing, and I was delighted at how inventive she is, and not only in herspelling. She’d written one piece well enough that I jokingly said that she should edit my in-progress story, only to have her say that she’d love to.


She did not, in fact, love to. But she did read it, and despite letting me know that it wasn’t her kind of book, she had some high-quality, helpful suggestions.

She’s such a good big sister.

A couple of weeks ago, for teacher appreciation week, one of the parents at her school put together a poster for the teachers of each child in the class holding a chalkboard on which they’d written what they want to be when they grow up. After years of my kiddo wanting to be a marine biologist, I was pretty certain what I’d see when I looked.

What was there instead?


Vile betrayer. I’m off to go buy your baby sister a flash drive. Go microwave yourself an Easy Mac.