Write From Home
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610
E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
by Dana Mitchells
Daniel Glick is the
Powder Burn: Arson, Money and Mystery on Vail Mountain and
Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth. He is also
a journalist whose work has appeared in magazines such as The New York Times
Magazine, Rolling Stone, Outside, Esquire and Menís Journal. He was a Washington
correspondent for Newsweek from 1989-94 then a Newsweek special correspondent
based in Colorado from 1994 to late 2000. He is the single father to two
children, ages 11 and 15, and he lives in Lafayette, Colorado.
Question: What made you decide to write a book?
Glick: After my divorce, I realized that I couldnít easily be a full-time single parent
and a news journalist at the same time. I was lucky with my first book,
Burn, because somebody came to me and asked me to write about a subject I had
covered for Newsweek. (The subject was the $12 million arson at Vail ski resort
that was allegedly committed by eco-terrorists. I live in Colorado, so I could
be close to home and do my research.) With my second book,
Monkey Dancing, it
just seemed like an elegant solution to my problem of how to be a reporter and a
single father: I took my kids with me to do the research.
Q: What about getting it published?
Glick: I didnít have a contract for
Monkey Dancing before I left on the trip, for two
reasons. One was that I didnít want to be obsessed about work while we were
traveling; I wanted to really be with the kids. The second reason is that it was
probably going to be a hard sell, to get a contract to write a book about a trip
I hadnít taken yet. So I did the trip, returned home, and wrote a book proposal
in less than a month. The publisher of my first book wanted it, so again, I was
Q: Was it a challenge to write while caring for your children? If so, what did you
do to keep the peace?
Glick: When youíre a writer without a fixed, immutable schedule and a fire-breathing
boss, itís always hard to convince your kids that youíre working. My son
frequently would come home and say, "What did you do all day?" Sometimes, when I
was doing interviews, my daughter would come in to my office and actually sit on
my lap. It is always challenging. But I tried to be as flexible as possible with
my work, and to be available for key times, like just after school and around
Q: Did your children understand what you were doing as you worked?
Glick: Iíve been a journalist for all their lives, so they do have some concept about
what I do. That said, I donít think they understand that when I take a long
walk, for example, Iím actually thinking and writing in my head. And, being
kids, they donít always care that Iím in the middle of something when theyíre in
the middle of something that absolutely requires my attention immediately.
Q: Because of your busy life both as a professional and a parent, what writing
schedule worked best for you?
Glick: While I was writing
Monkey Dancing, I had what I called my "power hour" most
mornings. My high-school age son left for the school bus at 6:50, and I didnít
have to wake up my elementary-school age daughter until just after 8:00. I would
run downstairs and crank for that hour, before the phone started ringing. It was
often incredibly productive.
In general, I have to be flexible with my writing time, because sometimes there
are orthodontist appointments and car repairs and field trips and grocery
shopping. I work when I can, and often work late at night after the kids are
Being a journalist, you get used to the cruel master of deadline pressure. You
learn that procrastination and publication dates donít make for a great pairing.
So Iíve become fairly disciplined over the years. I also have learned the fine
art of multi-tasking. When Iím on the phone on hold registering my daughter for
gymnastics classes, Iím also wiping down the fridge.
Q: Was there anything you had to sacrifice in order to get your writing done?
Glick: A life. After I became a single dad, I felt that I had suddenly inherited three
full-time jobs: parenting two kids, running a household, and earning a living.
While I was in the throes of writing
Monkey Dancing on a relatively tight
deadline, there wasnít room for much else.
Q: Is it harder to write fiction than nonfiction while you are also being a parent?
Glick: Iíve never written fiction. I will say that itís often difficult for me to
arrange for child care when I go off on reporting trips. Thereís only so much
non-fiction work I can do from my basement office.
Q: Did you at any time ask for help so you could get some writing done? If so, do
you regret it? If not, do you wish
Glick: My ex-wife, who lives out-of-state, came to my home for a few separate week-long
stays so I could get away and do some concentrated writing in a little cabin I
co-own in the mountains. Iím very grateful that she and I are on good terms and
that she was able to help out.
Q: What surprised you the most as a parent while you were writing your books?
Glick: My recent book was so much about being a parent that I was constantly trying to
put down into words what I had learned in the years since I had become a
full-time parent. Part of the writing process became an attempt to describe what
I was learning about being a parent Ė-- which was a lot.
Q: Were you confident about your ability to write books while juggling parenthood
Glick: I donít know any single parents that donít have moments of exasperation and
frustration with this impossible juggling act. I was frustrated that I wasnít
being a good enough dad, I was frustrated that I didnít have the concentrated
time to write a good book. I always felt like I was juggling seven balls at
once. And the truth is, I can barely juggle three.
Q: How did you manage to juggle promoting your books with parenting?
Glick: I was really worried about this, but the timing of my bookís release coincided
with the end of the school year. While I went on a book tour, my family helped
out: the kids took turns going to visit their mother, staying with my parents,
and even visiting an uncle. For the first book, I took the kids on some of the
book tour events, since they were often in great ski towns in Colorado. They
didnít mind that at all.
Q: What did you learn about yourself as a parent while you were writing your books?
Glick: I donít know if I learned this specifically while writing
Monkey Dancing, but
the whole experience of traveling around the world with my kids and then writing
about it reinforced how much I love being a Dad and how much I love my kids.
Itís such a clichť, but I would do anything for them.
Q: Whatís the best writing advice youíve been given?
Glick: To write. To pay attention to detail. To write about things you care about.
Q: Whatís the best advice you have for other writing parents?
Glick: Make a fine and private place to work. My kids know that my writing office is my
sanctuary (which doesnít mean they always respect it). Make time to write, the
way you make time to shop for food, or exercise, or pay your bills. Itís
Dana Mitchells is the online pen name of the writer, poet and
book reviewer Dawn Colclasure. Sheís been published both on- and offline, having
work appeared in magazines such as HiP and The Desert Woman, and Web sites such
as Griper, The Writer Within, e-fido, Writing Etc. and Just About Write. Her
latest article on Absolute Write can be found
here. Her book reviews have been published in Crescent Blues EíMagazine under her
real name. (Read
her latest review). Her Web site is http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/. She lives with her husband and
daughter in California, where she is currently rewriting one of her novels.
New to freelance writing?
this informative article.
Glossary of Writing Terms
(Electronic & Print)
Job Boards &
Research & Reference
Writer Web Sites