This post is an official shout out, a plea, to all parents of video game addicts: I’M OVER HERE! See me? The guy sitting in front of his 27” screen feverishly typing another YA fiction adventure story? I’m writing for your kids.
Now, I understand that you and/ or your spouse may very well be adult video game addicts yourselves (trust me, I’ve seen my fair share of them during my stint as a PC repair guy for six years: “Hurry! I need it fixed so I can play W.O.W.! I need to play W.O.W now!”), but you must remain resolute and resourceful. I know it can be done; I’m a recovering video game addict myself.
What I want is for your kids to read my stories rather than waste away in front of the TV or screen. Mindless escapism is one thing, but escapism into the realm of literature is something totally different. It strengthens the mind while at the same time strengthening the imagination and knowledge. Moreover, since I doubt that any of them have their own credit cards required to purchase my ebooks online, I need you to buy them for your kids.
Of course, there’s a catch: YOU NEED TO BE THE PARENT!
Not only am I speaking from experience as an ex-video game addict turned writer, I’m also a papa to four kids, three of which are boys in the prime of wanting to play anything that remotely looks pixilated. My kids don’t whine and cry about playing video games, because, well, we control the use of the video games. Simple: be the parent. Then, when they do get the opportunity to play them, it’s an exciting treat.
I realize that it is easier said than done, especially if your child is deeply ensconced within the video game environment, but you must take baby steps. You cannot simply rip it out of their hands and leave them empty. You have to replace something for something else, like an addict replacing the habit for something more constructive and life saving. A tad extreme, I know, but you get the gist.
What I’m saying is for you to substitute video games with my ebooks, in smaller doses to start until they’re fully enraptured with them that they’re begging you for more. I’ve written them especially for young, pre-teen/ tween boys. That’s not to say that girls won’t enjoy my stories, too, but usually they’re more into kissy-kissy smoochie stuff.
Yes, my motives may be a smidgen self-serving, but it’s for the greater good, folks. Save your children from becoming video game zombies, and save me from the bottom of the bestsellers list.
I love my children – I have four of them. I’ve been a stay-home dad for the last 6 years. At one point or another I’ve stayed home with at least one of them and at the most, three at once. Things have calmed down somewhat, now that my three boys are all in school, but with the arrival of my sweet little princess last October, I’ve got another four years to go until it’s her turn to start school (sniff).
But as each of my children grew and eventually started school, it seemed that another darling would enter my home. You see, a funny thing happened when my wife and I decided that I should stay home with our kids: my brain woke from a twenty year coma. No, no, I’m 100% healthy. It’s just that I haven’t been – how should I phrase this – the most ambitious amongst us humans during my adult life.
But in the latter part of 2007, one year into my newly acquired role as Mr. Mom and with a sudden influx of personal reflective time, I discovered a hidden passion that had previously laid dormant for most of my life – the writer within. And although a piece of me left whenever one of the kids left to start school for the first time, I slowly became acquainted with my new children – my darlings that came to life in my head each time I turned on my laptop and began typing.
When you’re a parent, you discover things about yourself that you may not have known before, or may not have needed to use until those precious little sweethearts started to fill your home. But when you become a stay-home parent, and the realization that your children’s lives depend entirely on you every minute of the day, it’s almost like a slap in the face – a rude awakening. And if you aren’t committed 100%, then your children suffer.
I’ve noticed this on a much smaller scale with the characters I’ve developed within my books. If I, as an author, am not on my game mentally and fully committed, then my characters suffer and ultimately the entire story suffers. I guess you could say that being a stay-home parent has helped me refine my skills as an author when it comes to nurturing my characters through the writing process, and giving them what they require to flourish.
But the sad inevitability that happened when my children eventually left for school also happened when I had to “let go” of my first novel and release my surrogate darlings into the cruel, unforgiving world. Stay-home dad or writer, I guess I’m doomed no matter what.
So, although my fathering skills in everyday life have now been tweaked to accommodate the needs of a toddler who now wears pink (yikes!), it’s been a true pleasure to breathe life and hope and aspirations and accomplishments into each and every character I’ve written about. I’ve grown and seen my darlings-in-prose grow along with me during my authoring journey, and sometimes I can’t help but feel protective of them.
My only wish is this: just as parenthood has taught me how to develop and become a better writer, I can only hope that by being a writer, perhaps I’ll learn to more easily let go and release my own kids into that same cold, cruel world when those inevitable times come knocking upon our door. Until then (sniff, sniff), I’m going to keep writing my books, keep raising my kids, and keep fathering more darlings into the wonderful world of fiction.
Reading a book is a unique experience for everyone. We get lost in the settings, in the moods, and in the colorful characters. But there's something about having a story read to you that does something to your brain. And it's cool.
My most fond memory of reading happened way back in either grade 4, 5, or 6 -- I can't remember. I was introduced to the world of Narnia by a teacher who obviously felt it was important to read and explore books, because I have no other recollection of such an experience.
The story The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis, still echoes in my ears as if it had been read to me yesterday. Having re-read the story several times since then, it somehow pales in comparison to having it read aloud.
Why? The story hasn't changed. The characters are all the same. It's the same length and the same author. But with the obvious addition of sound now accompanying the words, a whole different experience takes place.
When you read, not only is your brain forming a picture in your mind's eye of what's happening, but you're also concentrating on the act of reading itself. And for those of us who have always found the act of reading - dare I say - tiresome (ahem), sometimes our focus shifts in and out from actually reading the words, to letting our imagination have free reign within the tale being told.
When my teacher was reading the book to us, all my senses where left to freely enjoy the story and let my imagination run wild. Maybe it's because I've always been an audiophile -- I don't know, but when I don't have to concentrate on anything other than simply listening to a story, I tend to enjoy the whole story experience a lot more.
Plus, it didn't hurt that my teacher had a wonderful reading voice. Maybe that's my problem: I can't stand my inner voice. It's terrible dull, come to think of it. I wonder what my wife would say if I asked her to read my books to me from now on...