As a parent, there is no greater compliment than seeing your child do something clearly inspired by you. Of course, this can also be one of the most embarrassing parts about parenthood (Gee, I don't know where he could have learned such language...) but when the stars align and everything goes well, there is no better feeling in the world.
It's why they say reading to your kids isn't actually as important as being a reader yourself. Because kids learn more from who you are than from what you do. I have to say, that's really good news for a stay-at-home-mom like me who doesn't do a whole heck of a lot (professionally speaking that is, as in - for a paycheck).
But I still make sure to do the things I love - like reading, writing, making books - so I can be a better me. And, apparently (woohoo!), a better mom as well.
So, recently when Liam started making books, I felt completely justified in taking every last bit of credit. I started making books because of him and now he's making books because of me (or, at least, that's what I like to tell myself). It's a beautiful thing we've got going on here.
A big box of my books arrived in the mail today just in time for our home school field trip to East Side Story tomorrow. I set the whole thing up which is one of the really fun things about homeschool. You like something? Great! Set up a field trip. You want to learn about something? Great! Teach it. There will be four local authors (including myself) who will read to the kids and talk to them about the bookmaking process (as well as anything else they want to know). I think it's going to be really fun.
Anyway, when Liam saw my new books it reminded him about his new book, A Green World.
"Mama!" he gasped. "You haven't scanned my book yet! How am I supposed to sell any copies if you never help me?"
Totally valid point. The only trouble was...how do I even say this without sounding like a total jerk? It's a kid's book. You know, like something he made in two minutes with mostly misspelled words and staples holding it together. It's great, don't get me wrong, it's really great. Just not the kind of thing you would normally see in a store.
I know. Total jerk.
It's even worse considering I'm not only his mother but a fellow self-published author. Of children's books! Sure, I spelled all my words correctly and spent a helluva lot longer than two minutes throwing it together, but other than that we're pretty much in the same boat. Right? How would I feel if my inspiration was like, "Um, yeah. That book you just made is okay just not exactly scanner material..."
So I attempted to offer some constructive criticism.
"Liam, remember in Kindergarten when you would make a first draft? What was it called again?"
"A sloppy copy?"
"Yes! Exactly. A sloppy copy. Well, I just wanted to check before I scanned this - is it your final draft or your sloppy copy?"
"Well. I just noticed some things that you might want to change before we make copies. I mean, if this is your sloppy copy."
"Like what?" he said defensively. "It's great the way it is!"
"No, no. Of course it is. I just mean... well, like this for example. Shouldn't the title be capitalized? And what about punctuation? Are you sure all of the words are spelled correctly?"
He looked through the book with me but I could tell he was getting annoyed. Finally he grabbed his marker and snatched the book away from me.
"Here we go..." Woah, he was actually making some edits. "Yep. That should do it. Now it's my final copy."
He handed me the book. At the top, in parenthesis, he had written: "by a kid."
"That way if anyone is wondering why things aren't spelled right or anything like that they'll see that note on the cover and understand. I also wrote '5 copies' and 'share' so everyone will know there are only five of these books so they're gonna have to share if they want everyone to read it."
Okay, NOW he's my inspiration.
I laughed and hugged him and told him he was a really good teacher and marched my butt to the scanner and got to work. Then I said, "Hey! I have an idea. Since I just got some more of my books I'll ask people on my website if they want to buy one. If they do, I'll send them a copy of yours as well!"
"And if they would rather buy a copy of mine?"
Touche! "Well, then I will throw in a copy of mine for free."
"Sounds like a plan," he said nodding. "That's a win-win for everyone."
So! If you would like to buy a copy of A Green World by Liam Conran (a different version, still misspelled and half-assed but in crayon this time so it's way harder to see) I will gladly throw in a copy of Christmastime to Me from A to Z or Just Right Julia FOR FREE! Just, um, use the regular Paypal buttons to the left so I'll know which free gift you would like. There are only five copies of A Green World though so if you want one, you better act fact. Otherwise, you'll have to find someone to share with you.