A fellow writer recently lamented how discouraged she was when she went to check her sales numbers two weeks after releasing her second book. She said it was hard to justify to herself and her spouse the amount of time spent on the craft when those statistics seemed to indicate she should quit and move on.
This got me thinking. We writers often talk about our books as our babies because they’re a part of us, and they seem to take on a life of their own. However, I think the parallels between a book and one’s own flesh and blood go even further than that.
An idea for a story can take months, if not longer, growing inside us. Long after a writer gives birth to that first draft (which is an agonizing process!), then comes the even harder part of raising that story and polishing it, getting it to the point it’s ready to face the world on its own. But even once it’s out of the house, we still find ourselves worrying about it. Will people like it? Will it be able to take care of itself?
But as parents, we don’t expect our kids to move out and start making tons of money right away. We don’t expect that they’ll be able to buy us elaborate gifts their first Christmas living on their own. We don’t set a goal that they’ll find someone who loves them and get engaged within three months of moving out. Yet we writers will unfairly expect that of our book babies and then get disappointed when they don’t live up to our expectations.
Books really are like kids. It takes them a while. The oldest one might not settle down and really get established until the last one is out of the house. But eventually, they will get there. And what they accomplish with their lives and the people they touch will be inspiring and make you proud as an author/parent. And it might take years, but eventually they won’t come around asking you for money and having to do laundry at your house. And maybe, just maybe, in your old age, they’ll be able to take care of you.