The Holidays are with us.
And things are getting busy.
Balancing now is even more of endeavor.
I stayed home with my son, Ollie, until he was three. Around the time of his birth I was planning to record a solo CD of my own piano compositions, but Ollie wanted my undivided attention and didn’t tolerate any piano practicing. The only time I had to practice was during his naps, but I didn’t want to wake him.
So I shifted gears: stopped focusing on music and began writing. I’m a clinical psychologist and had already published two books for therapists: A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy and A Perilous Calling: The Hazards of Psychotherapy Practice. But during those at-home-dad years, I started writing fiction.
Since writing was quiet, I was able to pursue this endeavor during my son’s naps and in the evenings after he went to bed. By the time he was three, and I separated from his mother, I’d completed my first novel, a comic mystery. Unfortunately, it was never published, and I returned to working as a psychologist.
By the time Ollie was five, I had read him hundreds of picture books. I felt most of them were mediocre at best, and decided I could do better. So I began writing stories for young children, and in 2009 my debut picture book—Otto Grows Down—was published by Sterling, with illustrations by the fabulous artist Scott Magoon.
As Ollie aged, I started writing for older kids. He had a lively imagination and became something of a writing partner. He came up with ideas of his own and gave me invaluable feedback on my stories. He was even a good editor.
I never expected my marriage to fail, and raising a child as divorced parents presented many practical and emotional difficulties. Still, Ollie flourished, and the shared custody arrangement actually made writing easier. When we’re together, my son continues to want my undivided attention, and I’m more than happy to give it to him. And when he’s staying with his mother, I’m free to write!
When Ollie was eleven, I began working on a young adult novel. Being precocious, he was already reading some YA novels himself. Once again, he was of enormous assistance in constructing a plot, developing characters, and refining the manuscript. The result, Crashing Eden, will be released by Solstice Publishing as an e-book and paperback in May. I dedicated the book to Ollie. In truth, his name should accompany mine on the cover.
Visit Michael Sussman on-line at: http://www.MichaelSussmanBooks.com