It’s something I have heard a lot of times before. “My book is my baby.” Some people disagree with this statement. I am one of them. Still, I am willing to figure out a way to make this analogy work.1
The initial idea for a book is like a baby. It’s new and just sprang out of nowhere2 into your lap. It has so much potential and you have no idea what it’s going to become, but it’s yours and you are going to try your hardest to do right by this little adorable thing that you have created. It will be fun to raise and to figure out how to make it into something you can be proud of. You know you can nurture it just right. You might even make a complicated plan to make sure of it.
Childhood is the first draft. You get to play and have fun with your little idea and watch it grow in unexpected ways. All those carefully laid plans you made during infancy are being put to the test as it takes on a life of its own. You talk about it with other parents((writers)) and sometimes go on related blogs and forums when you’re having trouble, but all in all you are still happy with and proud of your little creation. And when it finally graduates elementary school, you take a look back and realize maybe you shouldn’t have had quite so much fun and let it go off wandering quite so often.
And then the teenage years hit with the rewrite.((Skipping middle school because I have never been and cannot speak for what is surely an awful experience)) At first it seems fine. It’s not so bad. And then you realize that some of the things your poor little idea is doing makes no sense. It doesn’t realize what the implication of its actions are. You start arguing, trying to straighten out as many of these bad habits that it’s developed as you can. Your book resists, of course. But that shirt looks great on me, look how nicely it’s written! That character totally has a place – you always need a musician! You just don’t understand how to use a comma splice anymore, author.
Somehow, your book has graduated and gotten into a nice school where it will live on the campus. This is where your editor(s) come in. You get a break away from your demon creation while someone else helps smooth out the rough edges, you just having to deal with it on breaks, though it seems that the breaks are too long and the time away is too short. You still love the thing, but these new ideas it brings back can be hard to get your head around. You work with it as best you can and try to be supportive. You’re getting tired and really want to see it on its own two feet. You are enjoying the quiet that comes with it no longer being in your hands.
And then it comes back from college, diploma in hand, and you realize just how much you missed it. It’s all done, ready to go. Or so you think. It makes a home in the basement. It doesn’t want to go out and do something with that degree. Do you know how hard it is out there? It could just stay home and play video games and have you take care of it for the rest of its life. It never has to come out again.
That’s when you have to get tough. You pick up your book, you go over every possible thing it could still do and you force it to go out and get a job. You have taken care of it for long enough. You raised it from when it was a little idea and you are proud of it. You do love it. And you know it can do it. It just has to do it somewhere other than your house because it is time, dammit.
On a related note, I’m kicking White Noise out of the house on Saturday. He needs to get a damn job.