In the latest installment of our Community Profiles series, we sat down with Todd Tarpley, longtime Gun, twice-published children’s author, and Digital GM for the Parents Network. Todd’s latest book, Ten Tiny Toes (Little, Brown 2012), was released last month to overwhelmingly positive reviews. He was gracious enough to share his thoughts on writing, kids, and the elusive work/life balance.
Being a children’s author and a digital GM are obviously very different pursuits. How do you balance that?
I like to say that I’m a digital GM by day and a children’s author by night. I’ve always had interests in both the business and creative sides of life. As far as balance goes, there have been times when I couldn’t write because work was happening, but as I’ve gotten older and, hopefully, wiser, I’ve been more careful about making sure to leave plenty of time for both.
Aren’t there days where you’re just too wiped out to sit down and be creative?
I’ve found that when you you’re really driven by certain goals, you’ll find the time.
Where do you get the energy for that?
I think everybody’s got something that animates them. Some people get energized by vigorous workouts, etc. Writing does this same thing for me. I sit down at the computer and I’m immediately revived by the act of creating.
Were children’s books your first foray into writing?
Definitely not. I wrote a lot of academic stuff — chapters in textbooks, that sort of thing. I’ve also written screenplays and a novel or two, but the children’s books were what really caught fire.
Any plans to revisit the other genres?
Maybe, but I’d have to be careful about it. If I wrote a horror screenplay, for example, I’d probably never be able to sell another kid’s book. That’s just how the market goes.
So how does your day job influence your creative life? What about vice versa?
There are definitely elements of each that bleed into the other. As GM of Parents.com, I get a really unique perspective on what parents (other than myself) are looking for and what they’re interested in. But overall, I think that the creative side has much more influence on the business side than the other way around.
I like to think it humanizes me. It gives me perspective beyond just making money, and that’s really valuable. When I hire people, I like to find out about people’s passions outside of work. When I find out that a person composes music or is a competitive athlete or what have you, it gives me a sense that maybe this is a person has a unique perspective and a deeper interior life. That, I find, often means that that person has greater growth potential.
Tell me about Ten Tiny Toes.
Ten Tiny Toes is a love letter to my kids and to parents everywhere. There’s a feeling of change — and I think it’s pretty universal — when you become a parent. It changes your outlook on everything: your kids, your own life, and especially about your parents. I wanted to acknowledge that and celebrate it.
This is your second children’s book (How About a Kiss For Me was released in 2010). What’s next?
Time will tell. I’ve got a few manuscripts circulating. Being a writer is a lot like being an actor: if you get a gig every two years, you’re doing pretty well.