Carolyn Robinson is the author of children’s book The Adventures of Moxie and Chicken. She is also a reader at Sick Kids Hospital and is the founder of Winter Wears, a program dedicated to providing winter clothing to children in need.
What does a typical Thursday look like for you, starting from when you wake up – to heading to bed?
Typical? What can I define as typical? I am so lucky to have a supportive man who brings me coffee in bed every morning. That is usually the calmest part of the day. We go over what is happening that day as we bounce between Breakfast Television and BBC. It seems that I haven’t learnt my lesson yet as I always jump after my last gulp and run around the house like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. “I’M LATE!”
By the time I get the kids off to school and the dog walked I feel like I am running downhill like Bugs Bunny with feet going to fast for my body.
If I am not reading down at Sick Kids that day, I try to hit my desk with yet another cup of coffee, and deal with emails, the web site, and twitter. With all these different ways of communication its very time consuming to keep up. I have been working on an event for The Duke of Edinburgh Award called “Ski For the Duke” this year, which as time consuming as it has been, the day of the event will be fantastic fun. I really believe in the award, so it’s an honor to be helping out.
I usually sit at the desk and suddenly look up only to discover that the day has gotten away from me once again and I have to quickly jump back into “Mummy mode” while smearing on chap stick and running out the door to collect my kids from school, get homework and dinner done.
Our dinners begin the same every day. The first person to sit down yells “High, low, haa-haa” and calls someone’s name at the table. We then each talk about the high of our day, the low of our day, and something special that made us laugh. Dinner is the most important part of the day for me. We are all so busy with work, school and activities it is the only part of the day when we can connect as a family.
We have a tendency to sit around the table most nights far too long with dirty dishes stacked by the sink. I love this time of day. The phone isn’t ringing and no electronic devices are allowed at the table. I would rather us all chat than sit around the television.
I go to bed as early as I can because morning starts early with the dog waking me at 6am.
What was your first job out of school?
My first job was as a photographer’s apprentice. The hours were brutal and I had to work weekends, which I hated. I learned a lot from him. I was pulled back to the basics, which can be annoying sometimes, but in the end I learned more by keeping quiet, which is difficult for me! I carried equipment, organized people, and sometimes got to shoot. It was great energy, and I loved getting to work with new people all the time.
What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?
A writer needs to have good vision of how a story is going to grow. Story telling is an art form and it needs to be exercised.
The second skill would be being resilient. Writers get rejected a lot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the work isn’t any good. Sometimes it is just because the person reading it is not in the mind frame, or can’t see what you see. It is up to you to make them want to make that journey.
You have to learn to believe in yourself and what you are doing. When you get rejected, don’t take it personally. Take a deep breath and try again.
What do you love most about your career?
I love the look on a child’s face when they get lost in a book. They have the ability to step out of themselves and fall into the pages. I am so honored to be able to do this for kids. They see magic everywhere and believe in it with all of their little hearts. My favorite time is when I read a new story to a kid and watch the emotion ripple across their faces. To be able to reach out and touch someone’s emotions through books is a brilliant feeling.
Do you have any warnings?
There isn’t much money to be made in writing. You do it because you love it. Be sure to have something else to bring home the bacon so to speak. Writing is like a drug, you think about it all the time, and feel half full when you haven’t done it.
If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be?
I have a friend who is an art psychologist for children. I think this is the coolest and most rewarding job. To be able to help kids through their problems though drawing and talking would be brilliant. I know she finds it difficult some days, but she is doing something so wonderful. I am in awe of her.