Sunday, January 8, 2012

Into the Ears of Babes

Today I went to a photography exhibit of a friend of mine. While there and waiting for a word with the artist, I met his young granddaughter. She is in elementary school and quite artistic too, and we got to talking. As always, I was very conscious of making my conversation topics interesting and child-friendly. We spoke of her bunny rabbit, Oreo, her teacher, her musical interests and the subjects she likes in school. I explained that I had two sons a little older than she, who also enjoyed art, music and the theater. 

Then she asked me if my boys went to the Y (after school program) when they were done with school, as she did. I explained that they took the bus home because I work at home, so am there to greet them and help with homework. She asked me what I worked on at home. I told her I was a writer. She asked if I had written any books. I told her I was working on two books right now, one fiction and one non-fiction.

At this point, I should pause to mention that I love speaking with children, and yet am often the one doing the questioning. But this little girl was so precocious and interesting, that she quickly made me realize how ill-equipped I am to give any kind of interviews with potentially malicious media personnel. She made me so comfortable and at-ease that I was unprepared to answer the question that came next.

"What are your books about?" 

I opened my mouth, then stopped. The non-fiction book, which I'm hoping to find an agent for soon, is about female sexual dysfunction and how to regain the sex life you once had, or get the one you've always wanted. Definitely no quick way to put that into 7-year-old friendly terms.

Immediately, then, I turned my thoughts to my novel. "One is about being a mom," I answered her confidently. And before she could inquire as to the title, I shifted to ask her about whether, when she has finished with a drawing, she likes to go back and make little changes, maybe color it in and add some more details. 

"Oh, sure," she said, obviously understanding my meaning. I explained that the book was in that 'fixer-upper' stage, also called the 'editing' stage and that I was working on making it better. But I had no workaround in mind if she were to ask me what the book is called. I just could not come up with a child-friendly substitute for a title with the word Prozac in it, so I instead asked her if she had tried the brownies. She had, and insisted that they were very good. 

My plan for this year is to finish my edits, take a course on being interviewed, and thank my stars every day that I am not in politics.

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