As some of you know, I have a daughter who will soon be two. We call her Mrs. McNoodle. She knows that her Mama (my partner) works at an office, and will even point out the office when we walk by it. Lately, we’ve been trying to round out the picture by telling her that Mommy (that’s me) writes stories.
One morning when I was asleep (ahh), my partner asked her, “What do you think Mommy is writing a book about?”
“Monkeys,” said Mrs. McNoodle. “Wiggle.”
So. There you have it. According to Mrs. McNoodle, I am writing about monkeys who wiggle. At the time we asked, I didn’t even know she knew the word ‘wiggle’! (Note: I do not write picture books. I pretty much always write about people. So far, not one has memorably wiggled.)
But this is no passing fancy. It’s stuck with her. Sometimes, I ask her what the monkeys should do in my book today. Recently, she said, “Haircut.”
“The monkeys should get a haircut?” I clarified.
“Do you want to tell me anything else about the monkeys?”
She thought about it. “Tall.”
“So I’m writing about tall monkeys who wiggle?”
In my one of my favorite episodes of Story Corps, Scott Simon interviews his 6-year-old daughter about the process of adopting her from China. He tells her,
SIMON: We wanted to get over there immediately. So we waited and waited and waited and we finally got to China….First we went to Beijing, and we–
DAUGHTER: First Chicago, then Beijing.
SIMON: Chicago, then Beijing, you’re right…(to the listener): She’s like an editor.
Me and Scott Simon, we’re getting that editorial advice right and left. If I radically change genres, you know who to thank.