5 Ways Writing A Novel Is Like Having A Child
I had a baby boy five years ago. Then I had a baby girl eight months ago. Now I feel like I am starting the process all over again with another new baby: my book. Ok, so I realize that this might be a slight exaggeration, but they do have a few things in common. If you are just starting out, congratulations on your new bundle of prose! Parenting a novel can be just as tricky as parenting for real.
- You will lose sleep. Just like a newborn, this project is going to keep you up at night. There are those few lucky people that have the ability to write during the day and keep all ideas and brainstorming out of the nocturnal hours. I have never met one, but I hear they exist. For the rest of us, ideas come at odd hours and after kids are put to bed and houses cleaned seems to be the only viable time to get any writing done.
- Stories crave sustenance, too. Those tiny bodies need nourishment to grow, and a developing story is no different. At the beginning of the process, a story requires a lot of fleshing out to figure out exactly where it's going. So give it a healthy dose of time and energy in the early stages. Every two hours may be a little excessive, but you get the idea.
- Your instinct will be to protect it at all costs. When crazy Aunt Edna, who reaks of cigarette smoke and shakes like a maraca asks to hold the new baby, will you say, "Yeah, sure! Go right ahead!" I think not. You will think of your precious new manuscript in much the same way. I haven't let anyone read mine yet and it will be a long time before I'm ready to.
- Your characters will sass back. And argue. And throw tantrums when they don't get their way. Not really. But they will gain independence as their voices become stronger. You will find that once you nail down a character's goals and motivations, they will begin to speak for themselves. You will know when their words and actions are true to their core beliefs.
- Eventually, you will have to let go. Watching your child grow up and acheive milestones is amazing. There comes a day in every parent's life when they have to let go, whether it be at school, daycare, or just for an hour with the babysitter. You will have to trust that it is in everyone's best interest and that they are in good hands. When your manuscript is finished, you will begin the querying process, wherein the precious baby you have lovingly and painstakingly crafted over days or months or years will have to be released. It is a sad and scary thing to share something so personal with the world, but know that it is the ultimate goal to be published and every writer goes through it at some point. More than likely, it will be rejected. But here's to hoping it gets accepted out there in that big world.