Tina Connolly: Time Management & The Art of Baby-Wrangling

Oh man, y’all.

I am really privileged to host some of these cool posts about parenting and writing. Privileged to see everyone’s thoughts, struggles, and funny observations on the creative life when you’ve got kids.

Today I am lucky to host a good friend, Tina Connolly, who just had her first YA book (not be confused with her excellent series for adults, Ironskin, which you should read right now). Tina and I met… at a con? A thing? I don’t remember, but somehow we have fallen into the tradition of hanging out and eating milkshakes at every writing-related event. (When she’s not there, I eat two milkshakes for her sake.)

Check out these mad jams she droppin. (I don’t know what that means.)

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I feel like there’s really only one kind of parenting + writing post, and that is, How Do You Do Both??  I completely believe that there is a kind of post I could write (the royal I, by which I mean someone who is not “I”) about how I used my darling children for inspiration and I couldn’t possibly grapple with the richness and deepness of life without that moment when the baby sneezed oatmeal all over my new sweater or some such.

I dunno, check back in ten years when the kids are fourteen and eleven. Right now all I’ve got is Time Management and the Art of Baby-Wrangling.

My first young adult novel, Seriously Wicked, came out last week. It is a totally fun book about a 10th grade girl who lives with a *seriously wicked* witch, and it was a blast to write. It poured out in, like, six weeks. I wrote furiously night and day, consumed by the blaze of creation. I barely stopped to eat or sleep.

If you are now secretly thinking to yourself that the punchline to the above paragraph is going to be “At that time I didn’t have any kids,” then I salute you. (And, I would come up with a better punchline that you haven’t yet thought of, except I have two children.)

The first draft of Seriously Wicked may not have been written with kids around, but it’s been through a bunch of rewrites, and most of them were. And I’m now plunging into books 2 and 3, and it’s safe to say I won’t get to take 6 weeks and lock myself in my study this time.

(If you really want to see the effect of children in my writing, then pick up Copperhead, which I wrote when my first child was one. I only realized much later that the secret hidden subtext is that it’s about a girl looking for a place to have a nap.)

I’m currently doing all the book release stuff for Seriously Wicked (like blogging, and book tours), all of which I really enjoy (although I think it all would be better if it somehow managed to come with a nap (write three blog posts and earn a free nap! – I could really get behind that.))

Anyway, the hands-down favorite, coolest thing I’ve done for the Seriously Wicked promotion is team up with my good friend (and fellow tired parent) Spencer [that’s me!] here to record one of the songs in Seriously Wicked. See, you remember that wicked witch I mentioned? Well she summons a demon, and it accidentally gets loose and into the cute new boy-band boy who’s just moved to town. Time for our heroine Camellia to stop the wicked witch and save the boy.

Except she just might be falling for that boy-band boy, especially when he sings a song he wrote just for her…

Spencer kindly agreed to lend his mad rock star skillz to sing one of Devon’s songs, “Lion Tamer.” I am totally in love with his hilarious and awesome rendition of it, and I hope you enjoy it, too.

 

ETA: Tina here, again: I realized I never did include any tips (such as they are) on Time Management & The Art of Baby-Wrangling! I blame…the baby. And…the other baby, the one that’s actually 4 now.
Anyway, my only real productivity tip is that once you find a tiny bit of time that works for you, you have to defend it tooth and nail against all comers, and the internet. Don’t do any of your “sand” tasks until you’ve gotten to do the nice (probably little) chunk of work you wanted to do.
And my two pieces of encouraging advice are “Put on your own air mask first” (which means, it’s okay to think about your own needs first) and, give yourself a free pass for EVERYTHING until the baby is one. (And I mean *everything*: forgetting your mother’s birthday, ordering takeout of fried things at 3am, not sweeping the kitchen floor for months, breaking down in sobs in the grocery store, and sleeping in every snatch of time you get.) With the first baby, I didn’t write a single word till he was six months. Baby-wrangling will get easier, and there will be time again.

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Tina Connolly is the Nebula-nominated author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books. Her next book, Seriously Wicked, comes out May 5th from Tor Teen. Her stories have appeared in Women Destroy SF, Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and more. Her narrations have appeared in audiobooks and podcasts including Podcastle, Pseudopod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and more. For many years she ran the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. Find her at tinaconnolly.com.