Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.
Sometimes I’m a children’s book author; sometimes I write for adults. I never set out to be one thing or the other, or to be both things at once. It just happened that way. And it works for me.
Writing picture books satisfies the part of my brain that loves listening to language, enjoys the elegance of concision, and gets off on the marriage of words with images (although I don’t do my own artwork). Writing for grown-ups lets me spend longer on and delve more deeply into a topic, write about issues that kids couldn’t care less about, and use a wider vocabulary (with bigger words as well as ones with four letters.) And switching back and forth between picture books and adult fiction helps me stay energized and interested.
Back when I was writing my second cockroach reader, I was also spinning cynical, sexy stories for Seven Days, and composing the occasional sermon to deliver at my synagogue. I would sit down at my desk and have to ask myself, “Which of my voices am I supposed to be using today?”
My writing life is saner these days. I’ll spend a month or more in one genre before switching to the other. But thanks to social media, my writing persona is much more public than it was in the old century. And with a new picture book under contract – for the first time in more than ten years – I find myself taking stock of how I show myself to the world.
On this blog, I have felt free to talk about everything, from therapeutic bloodletting to prayers without God to my collection of disembodied doll parts and the recipe for perfect latkes. Those themes are fitting for Ruth Horowitz, the former Seven Days writer, who has written a novel for adults that deals with sex and religion and grief. But are they the right topics for a children’s book author? What are the rules here? Are there rules?
And what about the business side of being a writer? I’ve always seen this blog as a place to have a conversation with the world — not as a showcase for my books. But with a new children’s book on the way (and with luck more to come) self-promotion has become part of my job.
What to do?
One thing I’ve done is set up a new website: Ruth Horowitz, Children’s Author. It showcases my kid’s books in a kid-friendly, easy-to-navigate environment. My plan is to continue posting here as I have been, including updates on my life as a children’s book author. But if you just want to kids’ stuff, you can find it at ruthhorowitz.com. And while you’re over there, why not pick up one of my books?