Chris L. Terry on “Keeping the Engine Warm” After Having a Kid
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Terry was born in 1979 to an African-American father and an Irish-American mother. He has an BA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a creative writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. His debut novel, Zero Fade, was named a Best Book of the Year by Slate and Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.
From the episode:
Brad Listi: You had a kid, which will throw a wrench into any writing routine. Did you have trouble? Did you go through a long period where you didn’t work because you were focused on child-care stuff?
Chris L. Terry: I did the opposite, where I forced myself to work when it might not have been productive. Right before my son was born, I managed to complete a sloppy first draft of this book, which was summer 2014. Then I spent the next year working on another draft that refined the story a little bit, but considering the amount of energy, time, and stress it might have been better to be easier on myself, you know.
Listi: Right, you have this big change in your life coming up and you don’t want to let go of the writing. You hang on tight. I get that. You want to muscle through.
Terry: I’m super regimented. The kid was coming, which was an unknown, and I’m thinking that I’m never going to run, sleep, or write again. Obviously, none of those are true, and I found time to do those things.
Listi: I say this to anyone who’s been on the show, or anyone in general, who’s just had a kid: Aimee Bender, who had young twins, was writing her next book in ten-minute increments. She had ten-minute sessions where she would force herself to get words down, and bit by bit she did it.
Terry: There is be something to be said about what I call “keeping the engine warm,” where you can dive back in when you have those ten or fifteen minutes. I know some people that can work that way.
Listi: I feel like I need a moment before writing, look at Twitter or flip through a book.
Terry: Before I was a parent, when I had all day to write I would really only bang out about ninety minutes of work.