“Daddy, are you writing your story?”
Aria asks me this question at six in the morning. She should be sleeping, even though I’ve been up for an hour working on my next novel, but I can’t resist this little moment to talk with my daughter about writing. Aria sits on my lap as I sip coffee and the sun starts to rise outside our home in Ohio.
“Can I work on my story with you?”
I smile, treasuring this moment as both a father and a writer. I save my story and open hers. Aria has only written three sentences in the past three days, but she came up with the idea all by herself. A new tooth fairy tries to protect her first assigned child from an evil fairy who wants to steal kids’ teeth. It’s cute—slightly creepy—and good. Really good. Like Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, which we’ve been reading together at night. I try not to edit as she types, speaking only if she asks me questions about the craft.
Aria taps her next sentence on my keyboard one letter at a time. I love watching her think about what happens next, then bring that thought to life through nothing but words on a screen. One letter at a time. One word at a time. One sentence at a time. Three sentences in three days—progress.
We’ve been doing this now for the past few mornings, her getting up each day a little earlier before school starts to write her next sentence. Each one she drafts makes her stronger, more creative, and more excited about the craft. As Aria keeps writing, I’m reminded of the letter she recently wrote for me on my old typewriter:
“You are the best dad ever … You and I both love to read and write. We both love to read Coraline and write stories. I will love you forever.”
This—all of this—makes me so proud. Aria’s second grade teacher recently told us that she has “a writer’s voice.” I don’t say that to brag, but because writing is such a solitary craft I’ve been pursuing for years mostly by myself and with a few core friends. I come from a family of writers, including my brother, mother, and grandfather who have all encouraged me along the way.
But for the first time, I may have found another writer in my own family.
“Daddy, can we write again tomorrow?”
I save Aria’s story, looking forward to the next day and sentence we author together.