Have I mentioned I love Friday? Especially Fridays in the summer, when the weekend is filled with shorts and sandals and sitting outside watching the wind in the trees and the sun glint in the kiddos’ hair.
As you know, I’ve been interviewing as many artists and parents and artists/parents as I can get my hands on.
There are equally as many challenges as moments of joy in making a living as an artist and I believe the same can be said of parenting. I’ve been curious to know how other artists and parents manage. So naturally, I found a bunch of them and asked a ton of questions! Since I’m a giver, I thought I’d share them with you.
Did you miss a few? Catch up!
Greg Tremblay – voice actor and homesteader.
ML Larson – the awesome uncle who uses British spellings despite living his whole life in the States.
Christine Tate – the Navy wife and homeschool mom who’s published her own bible study series.
Jane Danger – an author with the crazy cool name!
Julia Keanini – a newly self-published author and mother.
Horst Christian – the 84 year old man who moved here from Germany during the war and had my history buff of a step-dad going absolutely gaga over what he must have lived through.
Julie Ann Dawson – author/editor/publisher/gamer girl
Alex King – the author in love with exclamation points raising a little girl she describes as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland
Heather Hamilton-Senter – An author, cover designer, singer, very talented lady
Nirina Stone – A newly published author with a beautiful name
Claire Frank – The indie author who got snatched up by a traditional publisher just a few short weeks after publishing her first book
Robert Dahlen – the super sweet author of the Monkey Queen Series
And now, let’s hear from Marilyn Peake!
R. M. Webb: Tell me about yourself.
My name is Marilyn Peake. I’m a writer and photographer, wife, and mother to two grown sons. My husband and I love to hike in beautiful places where we can practice landscape photography. We belong to an awesome photography club where the members are both friendly and talented. I’m a visual person. Doing photography, especially outdoors, tends to stimulate my brain for long writing sessions back home. I have a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology. Before staying home to raise my children, I worked as a Social Worker and Staff Psychologist and found that work very rewarding.
R.M., I love that you answered the same interview questions you’re asking me and other authors on your blog. In describing yourself, you wrote: “Just now, I’ve written sentence after sentence on what my life as a mother means to me only to delete them as they don’t do this part of my life justice. Motherhood isn’t something you do, it’s something you become. Or at least that’s how I approach it. My status as a mother defines me and colors every choice I make.” I think you and I (and many other women) are kindred spirits. Motherhood definitely changed my life; it’s something I became. Now that my children are grown, I’m delighted that I have a great relationship with both of them. And it’s true when people say you never stop worrying about your children. Once you become a parent, you’re always a parent, which is a very special experience.
R. M. Webb: I don’t think anyone can prepare someone for what parenthood actually is. I saw a quote once that likened it as having made the decision to have your heart live forever outside your chest. I totally get that. On to the next question: Why do you create?
That’s a great question for which I’m not sure I have an adequate answer. In high school, I discovered through creative writing that I absolutely loved the process. When I wrote my Masters thesis, I enjoyed the writing process so much, I went way past the required number of pages. In fiction writing, I feel both elation and a sense of accomplishment that I created a whole world out of nothing. It’s pretty exhilarating!
R. M. Webb: Quick! Chocolate or chips?
R. M. Webb: Is your art your business? Do you make money (or try to!) for the things you create? Do you have a day job?
Art is my only business right now.
R. M. Webb: If you still have a day job, would you like to get to the point where you could give it up?
I don’t have a day job right now.
R. M. Webb: What caused you to want to market your art?
I’ve always wanted to be a published writer. Even when I worked as a Psychologist, I had started writing novels.
R. M. Webb: Where/when does inspiration strike?
Almost anywhere. For a long time, much of my inspiration for writing stories came from real-life news.
R. M. Webb: How do you react to negative feedback?
Hoo-boy. That’s a good question. I used to get upset. Now, I take advice that seems helpful and let anything mean-spirited roll off my back.
R. M. Webb: What’s your greatest obstacle as an artist?
Not having enough days when I feel like my brain’s on fire as I write. HaHa! I’ve finally written so many novels and short stories that I recognize the process. I start out feeling like everything’s falling into place. About three-quarters of the way through writing a book, I feel kind of lost and like I’m swimming underwater, even with an outline. I feel like I’ll never finish the book. Then, suddenly, it’s done and I realize I pulled the story together.
R. M. Webb: Who’s your biggest champion?
My husband. My sons are also very encouraging. When they were little, I wrote THE FISHERMAN’S SON Trilogy, a series of children’s middle grade books. My sons were so enthusiastic about those books, it was a great joy for me to have written them when they were little.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Red or blue?
Blue! Blue is actually my favorite color.
R. M. Webb: Do you have kids? If not, do you want to have kids?
As I mentioned earlier, I have two wonderful grown sons. My youngest is currently in college.
R. M. Webb: If your child showed talent in an artistic endeavor, would you help her/him pursue a career in that field after having worked in a creative field yourself? Why or why not?
Both of my sons have done very well academically. They showed talent in artistic fields as well as a deep appreciation for science, math and technology. I encouraged them to do well in school and to follow their dreams in whatever field they felt most passionate about. I didn’t push, just supported them in whatever they wanted to do in life. It all worked out. They both got into college for an artistic field they felt passionate about and are both succeeding at the kind of work they dreamed about doing.
R. M. Webb: How do you structure your day as an artist/entrepreneur/person/parent? How do you get it all done?
When my children were growing up, I tried to squeeze in at least 1-1/2 hours a day at least four days a week to write. It was hard, but I remember their childhoods as a very happy time. There were a couple of time periods—basically that completely sleep-deprived birth to three years old stretch of time—when I discovered I hadn’t written for three years. I’m not kidding. I got back to my computer to write and realized: Holy camole, has it really been that long?!!? Now that my kids are grown, I just have trouble juggling everything I’m trying to do: writing, photography, exercising, hiking, reading. I’m pretty hard on myself. The other day I was struggling to finish a writing project, thinking it’s taking me way too long to publish; and I suddenly realized I had published a novel, a novelette and a novella, and have just about finished writing two other novellas that I’m planning to publish simultaneously—all in the past year.
R. M. Webb: Describe yourself as a parent.
Flexible. Creative. Loving. Always happy to see my sons and talk to them on the phone. When my husband and I were raising our children, we had tons of toys, computer games and video game systems in our house. We had the house where all their friends came to play. We emphasized academics, but in a way that placed the emphasis on how hard work in school opens up exciting new areas of knowledge. My kids never lost their love of learning. They still have that. When they were growing up, we were strict about the important stuff: no hitting, stuff like that. We tried not to sweat the small stuff.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about raising kids?
How much fun they are and how openly and creatively they see the world. How incredibly attached to their parents and affectionate kids are. Their laughs. Their hugs. Their imaginations.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about raising kids?
Adapting to each stage. I remember reading in a child development book that at certain ages, six months of calm are typically followed by six months of turmoil as a child pushes ahead into their next stage of development. Also, the sleeplessness with young children. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those sleepless nights! And, of course, how busy they become as adults. That’s a new adjustment period: being proud of them and adapting to them as grown-ups with their own independent ideas. Raising children in some ways feels like a race, sprinting from one active stage to another; then running around touring colleges; then, suddenly, an empty, quiet house while you hear from your children about how busy they’ve become! It all seems to have happened in the blink of an eye. Raising children teaches you something about time. An afternoon on which your three-year-old is melting down and having a temper tantrum while your baby is crying with teething pain seems like an eternity. But all of childhood becomes like the blink of an eye to a parent once it’s over.
R. M. Webb: Are your kids ever involved with your art? Do they inspire you? Work with you? Would you like to include them in your business as they grow?
My children were involved with my children’s books when they were little. They read them, shared them with their friends and went to some of my book events. Now, they try to read my books when they have time. Both of my sons definitely inspire me. I’m very proud of how well they’re doing. I’d love to work with them on a joint project someday; but I think it’s more important that they continue to find work in their field and form their own professional identities right now.
R. M. Webb: What advice would you give someone dreaming of making it in your field?
Go for it! Realize it won’t be easy. Have a backup plan.
R. M. Webb: If you could pass one thing on to the next generation in general, what would it be?
That it’s important to love life. Go after your passion if you can possibly do that. Do it while you’re young, while you have the energy and idealism of youth. It will be harder later on.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your life?
I’m happy that I have time to write, photograph, hike and explore, that I have a supportive husband and two great kids.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Eat out or cook at home?
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about your craft?
The doubt and the struggle to finish a book, the long hours sitting in one chair, the long hours alone.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your craft?
Completing books that I feel proud to have written, the process of creating whole new worlds.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about the business side of your craft?
Trying to sell books.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about the business side of your craft?
Hearing from readers who enjoyed reading my books. That always feels wonderful!
R. M. Webb: Quick! Your peanut butter’s on your banana. What do you do?
Scrape off the peanut better. Put it on a cracker with strawberry jam. Eat that first, then the banana. If I’m hungry, make a banana split!
Click the cover images to see a few of Marilyn’s books: