Punked books

Mother writer interview: Rebecca Emin

Rebecca and Family

REBECCA EMIN lives in Oxfordshire, England, with her husband and three small children. Her first novel for 8-12 year olds will be published later this year, and she is currently working on her second novel. Rebecca enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories and is an author for Ether Books.

Tell me about your family Rebecca

I have a daughter who is 8 and sons aged 6 and 3. I also have a 15 year old step daughter. She lives with her mum but I have known her since she was 2, so she feels like part of our family.

When did you start writing and what do you write?

I always wrote stories for fun, and dreadful teenage angst poems, but decided to try and write a novel in 2009, and that is when writing became something more serious for me. Since then I have developed an interest in writing flash fiction and short stories.

I am pretty sure that I will never go back to poetry!

What impact has having children had on your writing career?

As I had my children before trying to develop my writing career, writing hasn’t had a sudden impact on an established career for me. As my children are getting older, I am very slowly finding my writing easier to fit in with our routines. The thing I find really difficult is the school holidays as I try and tell myself to put the writing on hold but sometimes my characters are not that obliging so I feel I have to write. This is hard as I find interruptions quite difficult to deal with when I am engrossed in a story.

The positive that has come from having children is that they can read my work when I write children’s stories. It is wonderful to see them reading something and then smile and say they love it.

How do you organise your writing time and space, how do you work your day, do you have a routine or is it more ad hoc?

If I am organized, I take my laptop with me on the school run and go straight to my favourite writing spot which is a café right near my son’s pre-school. They do have WiFi there but I have deliberately not asked for access, as I find being unable to use the internet means that I write a lot more, and also being away from my house, I can more easily ignore the chores that are all around me. I write enough to make me feel satisfied for the day and then go home to do my other tasks more cheerfully.

However, it’s being organized enough to take the laptop with me. It’s been a while… so I am often at my kitchen table instead, and I never get as many words written there.

Is it possible to maintain a balance on a daily basis or do you find yourself readjusting focus depending on your projects?

I readjust constantly. I tend to fit my writing into the time that my children are all occupied elsewhere, as I can’t immerse myself in my writing with constant interruption. As a result it varies day to day as my 3 year old is not at pre-school fulltime.

How do the children react to your writing or the time you spend on it?

My 6 year old son is very excited about it, and always wants to read my children’s stories. My 8 year old gets a bit jealous, so I tend not to do much writing related activity when she is in the house.

What do you find most challenging in juggling your role as a mother and your writing?

GUILT. I feel guilty that I am not gloriously happy to “simply” be a mother and that I feel that I have to write to feel fulfilled. I feel guilty that the house is not cleaner and the laundry mountain has put down roots. But mostly I feel guilty when other people suggest that perhaps my time would be better of spent doing other things, ie that my family is “more important”. It is a difficult thing to balance.

You’ve made breakthroughs, such as your stories appearing in several anthologies, your popular short story publications through Ether books and finding a publisher for your children’s novel, why do you think these successes occured when they did?

All of my breakthroughs have happened very recently, which is very exciting and somewhat overwhelming at the same time. It’s wonderful to have stories published and my novel accepted for publication, but I can honestly say my proudest moments are when someone gets in touch with me to say they have read something of mine and enjoyed it. These are the highlights for me.

I can say without doubt that all of my writing successes have been helped along by social networking on Twitter and Facebook, as well as blogging. It is incredible how supportive and helpful people can be when they have similar interests, and I have made some great connections with people who have had a huge impact on me both as a writer and in general.

Do you think women face particular challenges in career/family life balance or is it something that both men and women face in equal measure?

I can only speak from my own experience, but in our house I find getting the balance difficult whereas my husband’s role is more defined. Because I am at home full time, it is naturally expected that I will do the majority of the tasks involved with running a family. The challenge for me is to fit the admin for our company and my writing into my child-free hours and still manage to keep the domestic side of things afloat. There never seem to be enough hours in the day!

Something has to give when wearing many hats, what is it for you?

Definitely the housework.

What suggestions do you have for mothers or indeed parents who want to write or further a writing career.

Try not to get too bogged down in worrying about the amount of time you don’t have, and instead use the time that is available wisely.

Also, accept every offer of help that you get!

Thanks for sharing your experiences here on Head above Water, Rebecca. Congratulations on your publication news so far and we wish you continued writing successes into the future!

More about Rebecca,

Here are anthologies in which her work has recently appeared, many of which are in aid of really worthwhile charities such as the UK National Autism Society and the Red Cross assistance for the people affected by floods in Pakistan.

Rebecca’s stories on Ether books (e-book stories for the Iphone and Ipod touch)

Read about Rebecca’s novel New Beginnings for children that will be published soon by Punked Books.

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