Authoring and Fathering
Born in 1966 on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, Sherman Alexie is a novelist, short story writer, poet, and winner of the 2007 National Book Award in Young People's Literature for "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." His other works include "The Business of Fancydancing," "I Would Steal Horses," and "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," a story from which was adapted into the motion picture "Smoke Signals." His novel "War Dances," the story of an author who must care for his dying alcoholic father, was released in October 2009 by Grove/Atlantic Press.
Question: Have your kids affected your writing?
Sherman Alexie: I try to meet deadlines. I have, you know, more dependents, so it’s a very, very basic triangle needs. That bottom, you know, part of the triangle. But, well, they’re always surprising me. The kids are always surprising me with their insights into the world and of course because they’re my children, I pay more attention to what they’re saying than pretty much everybody else on the planet. I care more what my kids say on a daily basis than, you know, the smartest people on the planet. You know? And so I listen and their insights are really surprising and the way in which how unfiltered they are and their obsessions and passions, they don’t apologize for any of that. So I learn a lot from them, you know, it’s also aggravating and irritating and exhausting, the sacrifices you make and, you know, sometimes it feels like my whole life is a to-do list. But, you know, I think their passion for life really has re-inspired me.
Question: Do you want your children to read your work?
Sherman Alexie: No. I don’t, I mean, they’re autonomous. I certainly, if they want to read my stuff and talk about it later, that’ll be great. But until then, it was so funny though, I was profiled on the Lehrer News Hour recently and I was watching the rough cut of it and my son came down, my eight year old, and he was watching it on the TV with me and it was a five-minute piece about poetry and I read a couple poems and I read one very emotional one about my father’s death. And it was over and my son looked at me, he’s eight years old, he looked at me and he goes, “Dad, you’re pretty good!” So that was a great moment.
How raising children changes the creative process.
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