Claire King


10 Things Children Don’t Say to Writers

Posted on: March 4th, 2011 by Claire - 39 Comments

“This is us, watching you write. We can only see the back of your head.”

I was just reading Alison Wells’Β post about self-confidence/self-doubt where she makes the point that her children accepted the fact she’s a writer without question. I believe this is because (at least with small children) they have not yet forgotten that Mummy is a super hero.

If I told my daughters that I’ve decided to be a spaceman, they’d probably say, “Good idea, that sounds exciting!

The kind of things my children do say about my writing are:

It’s good you are writing books. Books are important because they tell us about things that happened when we weren’t there.


Will you write a story for me? With a zebra in it?

On the other hand, the kind of things my children don’t say include:

1. Have you written anything I might have read?

2. Have you got an agent yet?

3. Just short stories? So you’re not actually an AUTHOR or anything.

4. It’s all going digital anyway.

5. Have you had anything published? So you write for, like, a hobby?

6. Literary Fiction? What exactly does that mean?

7. Can you get me a free copy of your book?

8. Have you made, like, millions?

9. I don’t read much.

10. I’m going to write a book too, when I’m not so busy. (If children want to write a book they just go and get on with it).

These are the kind of things that only grown-ups would say. Because grown-ups have forgotten that we can be whatever we want to be. Because grown-ups may have become just a teensy bit cynical. Now, this is just my hypothesis, so I look forward to your comments!

39 Responses

  1. Mandy Baggot says:

    One little girl in a class of children asked me if I wrote Roald Dahl books! That was the best question ever!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I had the ‘you’re a writer? Yes, I’m going to write a book when I’m not so busy and important too’ conversation with someone recently. Infuriating!

  3. Alison Wells says:

    Thanks, I’m delighted you found inspiration but also oops because I don’t know if it’s an age thing but my eldest (pre-teen!) has actually said some of the things in the second category as well!

    Including ‘have you tried Bloomsbury'(Harry Potter addict) ‘No, but my friend Claire has!’ He also wants me to be rich and be in a book of my own not just an anthology with other people. He also critiques some of my work (the odd paragraph over my shoulder). My best stuff has ‘action’ and not just ‘talk about relationships’ in his opinion.

    However, as you say all the children just accept that I am a writer, tell their teachers etc. I’ll leave my 6yo daughter with the final word. I just asked ‘Do you think I’m a writer? ‘Yes.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because you’ve said so for a million years’.

    • claire says:

      That’s really interesting! Good that he’s taking an interest, I bet many kids don’t have opinions about what their parents do.
      I do harbour a concern that by the time we get to pre-teen and teenage years, we will end up in discussions about why we can’t afford to buy them *insert items like iPads, motorbikes, jimmy choos* because Mummy is ‘only’ a writer…
      At least your daughter didn’t say ‘because your website says so!’

  4. I’ve been asked a few times by kids if I’m famous. Of course, I say yes and give them my autograph

  5. Quotes from friends who don’t write.

    Is a short story collection the same as self publishing?

    Oh good, a novel. That’s a real book, isn’t it.

    Why don’t you write the sort of things that make money?

    Quotes from family.

    How much? Did you ask for more?


    Have you written the next one yet?

  6. William Topek says:

    I lived in a somewhat small-town, artistic community where I was lucky to have the opposite problem. I would actually get quite embarrassed when friends introduced me to their friends as a writer, and they just seemed to accept it.

    But in keeping with the theme of this post, my favorite adult question so far has been “So, does your book have any vampires in it?”

    • claire says:

      It sounds lovely, where you lived!
      One of my favourites is ‘Can you get them to make a film too?”
      Actually, maybe I should ask “them” πŸ˜€

  7. You nailed it! Hadn’t realized, my kids are my support system. I’m totally giving them hugs when they wake up.

    I tell my kids about story ideas, my 13 year old reads my notes and beta reads for me. They don’t resent writing time, because it matters to Mommy, and that’s good enough. Doesn’t matter if I’ve sold one yet, or if I’m good enough.

    Wow. Just great post.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Lori! I hope they got big hugs. Their lack of cynicism is wonderful for the spirit, eh? Going to hug mine now!

  8. Wow, those 10 things get said to me so often, how did you know? I must spend more time with children, somebody’s children…

  9. Lovely perspective…

    Vital perspective…

    Inner children of the world Unite!!


  10. Sandra Hyatt says:

    I kept writing through years of rejections because my children believed in me and I wanted to show them that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. They’ve always been my biggest fans (even though they’re not allowed to read my books!).

  11. eyeamImran says:

    that was a wonderful post there. the sketch is adorable, “mummy is writing”. i really wonder WHEN we start becoming cynical, because try as i may, just can’t recall ~

  12. Julie Musil says:

    Ha! I love this. Kids are so open and fresh and honest. Great post.

  13. I have the biggest smile on my face right now. Thank you! πŸ˜€

  14. Girl Friday says:

    Hee, love this post. The first novel I started had a zebra in it, which probably just goes to prove I’m not a grown-up πŸ™‚

  15. Piper Bayard says:

    Love this blog, and right now I’m experiencing a rush of affection for my kids, as well. For myself, I find that I can deflect a lot of those questions with my business card and a well-nourished blog. Thanks for your post. I look forward to more.

  16. […] 10 Things Children Don’t Say to Writers by Claire King. Just in case you didn’t have enough reasons to appreciate your children this week. […]

  17. Victoria says:

    At three my daughter saw an illustration of a woman holding a clip board and pen on a jigsaw puzzle. The woman was supposed to be a doctor holding a chart. When I asked my daughter what she was there was no question, “She’s a writer!”

    Wonderful post. Thank you!

  18. Emma Newman says:

    I loved this, and agree with your appraisal. My little bean is four and half, and when I showed him my book in its hardback glory and told him I wrote it he beamed and said “Well done Momma!” It made me so happy – no question to evaluate whether that qualified as achievement, or to put me into some kind of mental box of “successful / not successful” – just pure delight that I had made something – which is exactly how I felt about it!

    • claire says:

      Aww, congratulations! Kids are so honest about what impresses them, and like you say, mostly it’s making something. Mine are distinctly unimpressed by anything related to my day job!

  19. Nell Dixon says:

    When my youngest was 10 I heard her tell her friend that of course her Mum was a writer – as my books were in the library.

  20. So now I know what to look forward to. Mason, my live-in grandkid, is only two so he thinks writing is climbing up next to me and poking randomly at the keyboard. Which is what it is for me some nights. πŸ˜›

  21. Simon Lubkowski says:

    Different medium, but I dithered on writing a musical for my school, until after watching High School Musical 3, my daughter said – “Daddy, i thought you said YOU were going to do one of those musical thingys, and show them all how it was really done?”. 3 months later, i had a 20 song, 2 1/2 hour musical – kids help to focus the creativity I find… πŸ™‚

  22. I have started writing a story for my step-son who was 10 when it started and a great fan of the ‘Mr Gum’ books by Andy Stanton. When I finished reading each of the first two chapters, he said said, “Are you going to write another chapter?” Yes, I am. “Can you start writing it now?”

    He took the anthology in which I recently appeared to school because his class-mates did not believe that I had had a story published. Georgina, his arch-enemy, sniffily examined the anthology and then pronounced, “It’s a rubbish book.”

    • claire says:

      My kids love the Mr Gum books too (today my 4 year old woke up and asked if daffodils really spin – seems like she’d been dwelling on it all night!)
      “Can you start writing it now?” is the best kind of encouragement! Don’t listen to Georgina, she’s only jealous πŸ˜‰

  23. “You’re not an author yet because you haven’t published anything,” my 8yo informed me.
    “Thanks,” I said.
    “I’m sure you will,” he said, encouragingly.
    Thankfully, he didn’t pat me on the back or punch me in the arm. But it was close!

  24. The best one I’ve been asked is “Are you THE Robert Howard?” This was over the Internet back 20 years ago so… πŸ˜‰

  25. […] years ago I wrote this post –Β 10 Things Children Don’t Say to WritersΒ –Β where I talk about confidence, and other people’s reactions when you say you’re a […]

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