Q&A with Amanda Robinette (The Art of Relaxing With Children)

Bari Boyd, Staff Writer

 

Amanda Robinette graduated from the Mount last year as an English major with a Creative Writing minor.  She lives in Emmitsburg with her husband and three children.  Amanda contributed two stories to the Spring 2013 Lighted Corners Literary Magazine:  The Art of Relaxing With Children and The Gawdawful Truth by Ms. Alberta.  The Echo interviewed her to get the story behind The Art of Relaxing With Children.

 

Where are you from?

I’m a military brat, but I live here now.  I’m originally from Alabama, but I’ve been all over the country.

 

What is your favorite book?

I usually don’t have one, but one of my all time favorites as a kid was Where the Red Fern Grows [by Wilson Rawls].  I read it, I don’t know how many times, even as an adult.

 

Where did your inspiration for The Art of Relaxing With Children come from?

I have three kids.  At the time I had two.  I have a four-month old at home now too.  I was sitting there one day, with my kids running around screaming and being kids, and I thought, if I just walked outside right now, what would they do?  Then I went from there.

 

That’s fantastic.  How did you start writing?

I always wrote when I was a kid.  Then I would crumple it up and throw it away.  Everything I ever wrote ended up in the trash at some point.  I just kind of went with it because I thought I was ok at it.

 

Do you write often?

I haven’t written since I graduated.  I would love to.  I would love to sit down and have a moment where I didn’t have a million other things going on.  Prior to having kids I wrote all the time.  After having kids, no.  I’ve been talking to my husband recently about trying to schedule some alone time so I can sit down and have a break.

 

What do you consider to be your greatest writing achievement?

Probably what you read in the literary magazine.  I don’t know that I’ve done a whole lot past that.  I have some personal ones that I’ve written about my family at home.  Maybe those are more important to me, only because at some point my kids will read them and they’ll understand some things.

 

What’s the most important thing anyone has ever told you about writing?

I recently read something that someone posted on Facebook, which is really silly.  It was a list of rejection letters to some of the world’s most famous people, including authors.  The whole gist of it was don’t give up.

 

What’s the difference between writing something like The Art of Relaxing With Children and The Gawdawful Truth by Ms. Alberta?

The Art of Relaxing With Children was fun.  It was one draft.  It was play.  It was my smart-aleck personality coming out.  The Gawdawful Truth was really hard for me.  I had never even thought to try dialect like that, let alone the dialogue.  And the first draft that I turned into Dr. Bligh was actually crap.  He said it wasn’t, but it was.  So I went back and added about ten pages to it and took out some of the slang.  Honestly, the story itself came from me being in the hospital when I was sick.  I was sitting there in a wheelchair, looking at the doors, and I must have seen like 20 or 30 people walk in and out in the time I was waiting for the car to be pulled around.  I thought, my God, how many people come in here?  It was supposed to be a story about the opening and closing doors and the people that go through it.  Instead it turned into that.

 

It’s an interesting take.  Most stories about a cancer patient don’t take those turns.  It was really interesting.

Thank you.  I have no idea where it came from, honestly.

 

My last question is very serious.  Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Neapolitan.

I like it.  Thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed.  

You’re welcome.

 

The Art of Relaxing With Children

It is entirely possible to relax with a house full of children.  This is one of the great lessons that I have learned over the years.  “How so?” you may ask.  To which I will likely reply, “How can you not relax?”

In order to relax with a house full of children, you must first pour yourself a glass of wine.  Now, please do not limit yourself to wine.  Beer and liquor will also do the job quite nicely.  Yes, that’s right.  You cannot fully relax unless you are liquored up.  It will make your mood light, and, in turn, you will become less likely to become agitated.

Next, you must excuse yourself from the house.  Sit outside on the front porch; or if you do not have a porch, bring a folding chair and set it in your yard.  If you do not have a folding chair, a bucket will do – yes, a bucket or a pot, or anything else you find around the house.  While you sit there, forget about everything.  Do not concern yourself with the screams followed by cries in the background.  You know that everything is alright, so no need to go and intervene.  They have to learn to fend for themselves.  The last time that happened, the baby (although she is not really a baby) learned the art of determination.  The door closed on her finger and she was determined to figure out a method to rescue it.
For more of The Art of Relaxing With Children, and Amanda’s other story, The Gawdawful Truth by Ms. Alberta, check out the Spring 2013 Lighted Corners.

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