Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Your book is not a baby
So, we all have perfectly normal stuff that rubs our fur the wrong way. For me? I hate people calling their book a baby. Books aren't babies. They just aren't. I've seen a lot of cute posts about how we gestate plots and there are aches and pains along the way and then hey presto: baby/book. I don't think so.
That baby is coming out. That kid can't stay in there forever. One way or another, that baby will be born. After nine months, that baby must be born and if he/she won't come out on their own, trained medical professionals will go in and take that baby out. A book? Not so much. You have to work on your own to produce a book. Sex may not be required, but still you have to take action. And by action, I mean more than fifteen minutes of glory in the backseat of a chevy. A book takes time and daily dedication. It's always a shock to new writers that books don't write themselves. These hopeful parents, er, writers wait for inspiration. They want the muse to take control and work through their body. The truth is that sometimes writing is fun and sometimes it's just work. The brainstorming and idea parts are great, but the reality is that there are lots of days when I come home late from work, make dinner, do homework with the kids, do farm chores and finally plop down at the computer and tell myself "just put something down." If I waited for the perfect mood to write, I'd never get squat done. The only method that gets a book out of your head is BICHOK. Butt in chair. Hands on keys. One. Word. At. A. Time. This is why so many people love the idea of being an author, but not the reality of writing. They want to talk endlessly about writing instead of just doing it. Writing is work.
So, no. I don't think of my books as my children. A book is not a baby.
You don't have to feed a book. It won't need diapers. It won't stretch your breasts out of shape. It won't give you varicose veins. You don't need to add them to your insurance plan. It won't walk. It won't crawl. It won't stuff oatmeal in the VCR and cheerios between the seat cushions. It won't talk back. You don't have to leave a book in day care when you go back to work. It won't cry. It won't puke in the car. It won't repeat everything you said to the teacher. It won't lose library books. It won't need lunch money. It won't get sick the night before a big party. It won't forget a project until the night before it's due. It won't have to go to summer school because it was reading during math class.
A book doesn't need you to buy it fancy designer clothes. It won't play sports. You book will not grow taller than you are or open pickle jars for you. There will be no frosty mornings at the practice field. It won't outgrow its shoes every two weeks. A book won't need an iPod and a nintendo and a phone and then a smart phone and then a bigger data plan so it can send 5,000 misspelled texts to its friends. The cops will never bring your book home to you at four a.m. Your book will not wreck your car. It won't adopt a dog that digs in the garden and eats your shoes. It won't sleep with the same smelly dog. It won't track mud in your house.
Your book won't play the tree in school plays, the tuba in the school band, or a townsman in the senior production of Oklahoma. There will be no college fund to save for nor campus visits. There will be no dorm rooms or bad roommates in your books future. It won't date boys with long hair and loud cars or drop out of college because it's knocked up. You book will not require months of dress shopping and and a country club wedding with ice sculptures and a three foot tall champagne fountain.
A book is just a book. And a child will completely rearrange your life in both wonderful and terrible ways.