Saturday, 9 May 2015
A Book is Not a Baby
People tell me my book must feel like my baby. They say that with publication imminent, watching that baby take its first steps must be a wrench. The truth is, I don't feel like that. Once my book was finished, there was a positive and welcome sense of detachment - it was a complete being and ready to try its luck in the world.
If it succeeds in entertaining any of its readers, then it will be successful and I will be inordinately proud. Not of me, but of it. This is not some sort of coy modesty. I feel this way about short stories too. Once they become complete pieces, I see them in a different way. They must stand alone. I send them off and wish for the best possible outcome, but without expectations, since those can lead to disappointment. However, I am always hopeful, as there would be little point submitting if I couldn't allow myself a sliver of that. If the story is unsuccessful, I am disappointed for it, not for myself. If it flourishes, I am overwhelmed with happiness, but for the story, not for me. The mood has changed since we were closely acquainted. I am occupied with a different set of characters, an unrelated setting and brand-new words. This is why they cannot feel like babies. If they were, it would be impossible to discard one in favour of the next.
I really miss the characters I have created and wish they were still with me, but none of them can be tiny infants - even those who actually are. They must all stand on their own feet. If they seem to be faltering, then I probably shouldn't write The End just yet.
My book cannot be a baby. It has to go out and speak for itself, function on the precipice without me clutching hold of it and clinging on for all I'm worth - just in case I decide to pull it back from the brink.
A book and a baby are two different entities. One is painful to produce, causes endless anguish and disturbs sleep. The other is soft, pink and gurgly.