Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not My Baby!!!!

I’ve seen whole series of blog posts and articles lately that discuss writing as an author’s baby... This is not a new analogy and it’s not an altogether bad one, either... the creation of a novel is a very long and difficult journey and I can see how an author will come to love their work and words in an overpowering way...

When your love for your words, though, gets in the way of the story it’s time to decide what exactly it is that you’re doing... I’ve seen editors discuss how an author, whose word count is double what is reasonably feasible, refuses to cut even one single syllable from his monstrosity... yes, they’re his babies, but we’ve all met kids that were monsters... (Liar! You have too!)

So here, for your pleasure, amusement, and perhaps legitimate ponderings, are the top ten reasons ...

Why My Novel Is Not My Baby



10. I can’t edit my children. I’ve tried and they’ll have none of it. Besides, if I chopped off aspects and pieces of my real children, people would frown on it... if I didn’t do it with my fiction, editors would run screaming in the night... or send ‘Dear Writer’ rejections...

9. I have never felt the need to make my children more active.

8. If we could ‘plot’ our children, no one would ever become a bum or miscreant, and then what the hell would we write about?

7. I have never yet felt the need to raise the conflict on my children... parenting is conflicting enough – I would prefer it in passive voice if I could pick it (see reason number 9)...

6. No matter how wildly successful any of my novels become, they will never love me back.

5. I’ll tell you right now, there will never come a day when I think a sex scene might spice up my kids’ lives, not when they’re forty, not when I’m dead... I shall refuse to admit I even read such stuff so they can walk through their ultra cool lives without the need for a shrink.

4. I will never stay up nights worrying about when my novel will get her ass home.

3. My novel may someday spawn sequels, but it will never give me grandchildren... okay, that’s not a guarantee with kids either, but I’ve got a better shot there.

2. There is no trauma in my novel that I can’t fix myself... it is completely up to my writing, craft and work ethic to turn my fiction into the best story I can tell – if only that were true with children... what wouldn’t I give to be in full control over their health and well being.

1. I might joke, but I would never sell my kids... No one on the planet has that kind of money...

37 comments:

Colleen_Katana said...

Very true. Very insightful. Very cute. And if I haven't mentioned it before....you sound like a great mom!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi colleen!!!

Thank you... give them a few years and we'll see if they agree... we're still in the 'I love Mommy' stage... I think that wavers in the teenage years... especially since I'm kinda strict with the rules.

Travis Erwin said...

Great stuff. and I agree with all but number four. I have spent many a sleepless night worrying how I could get my novel to come back "home" and follow the direction I needed.

Precie said...

Love this!

Precie said...

My list would have a few alternates like...

--I would never turn my back on my child or stuff my child under the bed out of shame.

--My child simply can't wait until I feel inspired to parent.

--I'll never have to write letters to everyone I know trying to convince them how great my child is--I know it, and that's all I need.

moonrat said...

very cute :)

Mary Witzl said...

Ooh, yes, Merry: this is all so true! One of the reasons I started writing books in the first place is because I can control the plot and make things go the way I want them to. So satisfying, so different from my life.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Travis,

That's true, I've spent my share of sleepless nights coaxing words myself... now if someone could just show me how to edit my children :-)

Precie,

bwa-ha-ha... I love your list!!! Why didn't I think of 'shoving them under the bed' or query letters... hysterical

Hi Moonrat,

Glad you liked it... your manuscript of doom was one of my inspirations!

Hi Mary,

I thought you might like this one... I think the whole 'my baby' reference to novels is valid, but sometimes we need to blow off a little steam and not take it soooo seriously...

And, if this manuscript never got picked up, I would write another.... can't say that about my kids.

Josephine Damian said...

If were were this type of (book) mommy, I'd be arrested on human slave trading because are products to be sold and nothing more (certainly not "art").

I'd be the worst stage mother since my attitude towards books is, above all else, it must entertain.

I'd be arrested for murder because I think the best writing advice ever is KILL YOUR DARLINGS!

More than anything, I think of my book as a "grown-up" child - I did my best and sent it out into the big bad world, and it has to sink or swim on its own, nothing I can change about it or improve it once it gets out there on it's own.

Merry, great post!

SUV MAMA said...

LOL! Though #1 was the best reason.

Can't snuggle up and kiss your money.

:)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Josephine,

All great points! I was just in a silly mood today over the pressure we writers tend to put on what we do... yes, I think my writing is important and yes, there are books out there that the world is better for... but comparing prose to a living child tends to make us sound a little too egocentric and unbending about our work...

besides, sometimes it's fun to be a little goofy.

Hi SUV,

I could snuggle with money, I'm just sayin.............

Stephen Parrish said...

This is great. I think you should pitch it to one of the writing magazines.

Josephine Damian said...

Stephen, great idea!

Merry, I'm off to jury duty today.
Gotta be there before dawn! Ugh!

Erica Orloff said...

WOW! I agree with Stephen. Pitch it to Writer's Digest or something like that. This is ADORABLE!

And very true.

Colleen_Katana said...

Oh, I dunno...
both my parents were VERY strict. I mean, literally only 1/2 an hour of television daily (and we all had to agree on what to watch...if there was any fighting, the tv would turn off and that was that) no sugar, no soda...and I never went through the "I HATE YOU" phase. Though, I DID get frustrated now and then...but who didn't?! And they sure got frustrated with me too!
Anyway, I think your kids, even in their rebellious stage, will appreciate what a great mom you are!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Stephen,

I hope you're feeling better today, we was worried about you. I'm glad you enjoyed it - I hadn't even thought of pitching it, can you still do that after you've posted it on your blog?

Hi Erica,

Thanks, and thanks for stopping in! I've been enjoying your blog since I found you through Stephen and Tena.

Hi Colleen,

I'm going to make my kids read that comment in years to come! They get a little more tv than that (bad mommy) but they have to do their homework/chores first and it goes off when I say it does. They also get computer time, but again, games or websites I pick (which are at least a bit educational). No pop, none of my kids drink it at all - my ten year old has had it at girlfriend's houses and girlscout or softball things, so she's allowed to have a half a glass here and there for a treat... drives her nuts because all her friends get to drink it with dinner or bring it to school for lunch. Personally, I don't get this - when I was a kid everyone drank pop, but now we all know it'll rot your teeth and dehydrate you - I don't even drink it very often, why would I let them have it!!!

They do get more treats than I would like, but I moderate it a bit - after dinner usually and I like to bake so at least it's not all candy or storebought junk... which is why they love halloween so much, I'm sure.

Angela WD said...

I'm laughing hysterically! It's so true...and yet, maybe that's why writing a novel is sometimes more satisfying than raising a child.

Demon Hunter said...

Great post! I never thought of my novel as my baby. You made a great point, Merry! Too bad Miss Snark is not around to see this! :*)

The Anti-Wife said...

Wow. I didn't know you couldn't do those things to your kids. Good thing I stuck with dogs.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Angela,

I think the 'birthing' process of novel writing is a little less physically straining too - though maybe that's just me.

Hi Demon Hunter,

Thanks for stopping in - I actually do think Miss Snark is still around, there are a few bloggers who've wondered whether she might be Janet Reid - either way, Janet's blog is really great, if you enjoy Miss Snark you'd probably like her, too.

Hi Anti-wife,

My dog has never back talked or refused to eat... well, anything... besides, dogs are often better company than a lot of people :-)

Shelly said...

That's a great post, Merry!

And I agree, if you can pitch it somewhere that it will be accepted after being posted on a blog, you should. Good stuff!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Shelly,

Thanks... you know, I'm starting to feel silly for posting it...

If anyone knows - can I pitch this, slightly edited and retooled, after it's been posted?

Stephen Parrish said...

I don't believe posting on a blog is publication; just think of us as a crit group. If there's any doubt, quietly take it down a couple of posts from now and we'll all swear it was a UBO (Unidentified Blogging Object).

Colleen_Katana said...

Haha, 'pop.' Haven't heard that in a while!

Yeah, my mom used to bake a lot so we would have HER cookies, etc. But then we'd taste cakes at other kids' houses and it was like, "WHOA! What is this grainy white stuff that tastes so sweet? SUGAR? What in the world is that??" My dad is diabetic though....so there lies the true culprit.

Def show this to your kids someday! And maybe I'll have a sit down with them and tell them how easy they had it with you! =0) (I'll actually be able to use the term, "Back when I was a kid...)

Erica Orloff said...

merry:
You can pitch it. :-)
E

Jaye Wells said...

I love this entry. I've never thought of my novels as babies, unless we're talking Rosemary's Baby.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Stephen,

Technically, it is published... though I like your idea... I'll simply say it never existed...

Hi Colleen,

I doubt that'd agree with you but you can try:-)

Hi Erica,

Thanks so much - I'm drafting a query as we speak, and of course editing the list and previous paragraphs because I really don't edit my blog entries much... I think, though, that I'll leave the entry up and just mention it in the query.

Hi Jaye,

Thanks for stopping in. Or a baby that takes stake over gerber's?

Travis Erwin said...

I finally got my homework done, Ms. Monteleone. Now can I go out and have recess with the rest of the kids?

jjdebenedictis said...

Hee! Very funny post. :-D

Church Lady said...

I didn't know you wrote middle grades!!!

I should've stopped by a lot sooner!

(btw--LOL at your list!)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi JJ,

Nice to see you out and about! I hope the computer troubles are behind you - that can be a real pain, I hate it when I can't get online, myself.

Hi Churchlady,

So nice to see you! I've been a lurker at your place for a while.

inherwritemind1 said...

Hi Merry,

Thanks for the sweet note on my blog.

I'm not disappearing forever, just for a while.

I envy you the pleasure of Paula's company. Have fun!

Ello said...

Ha! you totally cracked me up with this one Merry!

Jerseygirl89 said...

What a wonderful post. Funny and loving and SO TRUE! Though you forgot to mention that your novel will never, ever throw up on you.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic!

Hélène Boudreau said...

**snort**

I'm glad I followed your pixilated trail here. This is priceless!

:-)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Tena,

Thanks for stopping in, and I'll be sure to check back once in a while to see if there's a new one...

Thanks for the introduction... maybe when you're not so busy, you can meet us out for dinner or drinks for some writerly fun.

Hi Ello,

Thanks - it's always a good sign when I make you laugh, your posts are my favorite for humor.

Hi Jersey,

You mean my novel's not supposed to do that? Damn, I have to start over... Glad you liked it.

Hi anon,

Thanks so much.

Hi Helene,

Great to see you - I'll stop over at your blog soon to see what you're up to.

Update everyone,

I did, in fact, edit and rewrite this one - it's out on submissions now...

And Precie, I didn't keep the two line items in, but I so appreciate your giving me permission and offering market advice... thanks so much!