Rachel Levy Lesser

Rachel Levy Lesser

Q. What inspired you to become a writer?  I always loved to write when I was growing up whether it be a paper for school, an article for the school newspaper and as I grew up whether that was a newsletter for a nonprofit or in my jobs in marketing and PR. I really got serious about my writing after my mother lost her 6 year battle with cancer at the age of 57. I thought that her story (and the story of our very close relationship) would be an inspiring one, and it turns out that it was. I wrote down memories of our time shopping together as shopping became a metaphor for the way we lived our lives and helped her deal with cancer. These stories came together in my first book, “Shopping for Love.” After that a few freelance writing opportunities came my way, and then I began pitching for more and more freelance writing opportunities.  The more I wrote, the more ideas I had and my creative side kept growing and growing. I honestly didn’t know that I had all those ideas until I put them down on paper. I then wrote a children’s book called “My Name is Rebecca Romm, Named After My Mother’s Mom” about where children’s names come from. I now regularly write for several blogs, newspapers and magazines and my third book, “Who’s Going To Watch My Kids, Working Mothers’ Humorous and Heartfelt Struggles to Find and Hold On To The Elusive Perfect Nanny” was just released a few weeks ago.
Q. What advice do you give to aspiring writers?  Keep writing, keep pitching and keep networking. As a writer you first have to find the time to sit down and write. Create a writing ritual every day whether it be just 20 minutes in the morning (wake up early to do so!) or if you have the luxury of carving out more time (like several hours in your day) then do that. Keep a notebook with you at all times. I have notebooks everywhere – at my desk, on my bedside table, in my bag, in my car. Whenever an idea comes to me, I write it down. When you do have an essay, an article of even an outline for a book or a manuscript, keep pitching it. Pitch to editors, agents, publishers. And don’t get defeated by rejections. I have enough rejections to fill the walls of many rooms. You will hear a lot of nos before you hear the yeses. Also keep networking. Tell everyone you know what you are up to. You never know who may know someone in publishing or in book marketing or any relevant field. You have to tout your own horn a bit and put your writing out there.
Q. What led you to write Who’s Going To Watch My Kids?
Who’s Going To Watch My Kids? has in some ways been a book 10 years in the making (at least in my head.) I employed 5 nannies over the course of a decade of being a working mom. Each time I hired a new nanny, I thought that she would be the answer to all my prayers – the modern day Mary Poppins. But it was never that easy. I started to talk to my friends (also working moms) and they had stories to share with me. Some of these stories were funny and cute and some weren’t so cute. I began to realize that the relationship between nannies and the working moms and families they care for is like nothing else out there. I grew closer to my nannies than anyone who every worked for me in an office and I also put up with way more stuff from my nannies because they had the most important job there was – watching my kids when I couldn’t. I put up with a lot of this stuff because for me (and for so many of the working moms that I interviewed for the book) the thought of finding a new nanny always sounded so much scarier than dealing with the flaws and issues in my current nanny.
Q. What do you want readers to get from Who’s Going To Watch My Kids?  I want readers to understand that being a working mom is constant juggling act. No one is perfect – not the mothers, not the nannies, and that moms have to give themselves a break every now and then. Moms should always know that they are the mothers and that they are the constant in their children’s lives and that as my mother so correctly told me years ago, every nanny is replaceable. I also hope that readers will understand that they are not in this boat alone. Mothers all across the country have been where they are and they got through it and continue to do so every day.

Q. What do you want people to remember you for?  I hope that people remember the stories that I’ve written and told whether in speaking engagements, essays, article or in my books. I hope they have made and will continue to make connections to me and the people that I write about. I hope they have and will continue to learn from my writing and perhaps laugh and cry a bit as they make these connections along the way. The most rewarding part about my job as a writer is when I hear from readers who have done just these things, made a connection, learned, laughed and cried through my stories.

Q. Take us through your writing process.  How do you stay motivated to complete a book once you begin?  I write almost every day. Whether it be the beginnings of an essay or pieces of a book or ideas for future essays or books. The continuity of writing I believe is very important. In order to do this, you have to be very disciplined and self motivated. There are so many things that can distract me from writing but I try and put them aside and work towards one goal every day. Sometimes that goal is as simple as drafting an email to someone abut an upcoming project or as all encompassing as writing a chapter in a book. If I can’t work through an idea or the organization of a piece, I put it aside and move onto something else. I try and tackle one thing at a time. As far as finishing a book, if it’s a good idea that I really believe can turn into something, then that is the motivation I need to keep going. It also helps to have a supportive network of family, friends and colleagues which I have and feel very lucky to have.

Q. How can today’s busy working moms find and hire the perfect nanny?  There is no such thing as the perfect nanny. I learned this through my own experience and through interviewing working moms all over the country for this new book. One of the keys to finding and then holding on to a right fit nanny for you and your family is taking a step back and thinking about what works best for your family and your situation. Think about whether you want/need a nanny to live in or to live out, whether you are looking for a nanny full time or part time, whether you are looking for a younger nanny or an older and perhaps more experienced nanny. Think about how much control you want over the day to decisions in your household and how much control you want to give to your nanny. Think about the personality of your children and what kind of person they respond to. Once you think you have found the right fit nanny, communication is key. Keep those lines of communication open on both sides. And be prepared to let go of some of that control, be able to go with the flow and never lose your sense of humor. Otherwise you’d go crazy. You can do it. I know you can!

A marketing professional, Lesser has experience working with nonprofit organizations and schools.  She had also worked on the business side of Time Inc. as well as on the launch of Real Simple With a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Michigan, Lesser is the author of two other books: Shopping for Love and My Name is Rebecca Romm Named after My Mother’s Mom.  

A blogger for the Huffington Post, her work has been featured on Glamour.com,  AND Magazine, Metropolis, and The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Currently, she resides in Newtown, Pennsylvania with her two beautiful children and husband, where she enjoys yoga, knitting, and baking.

Learn more at RachelLevyLesser.com and connect with Rachel on Facebook,LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Who’s Going to Watch My Kids? is available on AmazonBN.com,RedWheelWeiser.com, and in Barnes and Noble bookstores.