Welcome guest blogger, writer, and mom Kris Kennedy!
There’s a phrase that goes something like, “Books are like babies,” or “An author’s books are like her/his babies.”
It’s cute and all, but deep-down, I’ve always disagreed with that sentiment. The “books are like babies” thesis runs close to suggesting we treat an author’s words or ideas as if they’re precious, and shouldn’t have to endure being bruised by harsh opinions. The implication being, I guess, that my precious ideas cannot handle the rigours of being read, being examined, experienced, being . . . handled.
The thing is, my stories can handle being handled. They are hardy souls, like wildflowers. Or weeds. (Excepting personal attacks on me, the gardener, of course.)
Because of this, I’ve always been wary of the claim “stories are like babies,” despite an awareness that a writer’s relationship with her story IS one of nurturance, devotion, sacrifice, much like a parental one. But, really, stories are different from babies. Books don’t poop. Full stop. Must we go on? Okay, fine.
Stories do not:
~ Howl with earaches you can’t heal at 2am;
~ Need shoes;
~ Grow out of said (and expensive) shoes the following month;
~ Crawl out into the street or behind the rack of women’s gowns the one single second that you turn your back, to sneeze for Heaven’s sake;
~ Break their arms or their legs or your heart. (we writers say writing can break your heart, but that’s poetic license, because if you have kids, or pets, or a parent, or a friend, you know very well the pain a story can inflict is nothing like what a loving a person will do to you);
~ Also, importantly, books don’t get diaper rash.
So, really, I figured, we’re done here. Books are NOT like babies. End of story.
But then . . . that thing about the poopy diapers? That caught my attention. (Enough out there, in the Peanut Gallery). And the more I thought, the more I realized, hey, wait a second. There are ways babies and stories are very much alike, important ways.
Both books and babies both:
~ Wake you up in the middle of the night, demanding attention;
~ Prompt you to redecorate an entire, perfectly functional room to get you out of the line of traffic in the household foster their growth;
~ Are ungrateful. Sure, I know stories are inanimate and therefore incapable of gratitude, still it remains: they are ungrateful. You pour hours and months and sometimes years of work and attention into them. You devote some of your finest AWAKE hours to them, you become the bottomless well, and some days you fear it’ll never be enough;
~ They have a life of their own. I lose the heart of the story when I over-impose my will, when I insist on being right about what’s supposed to happen next. I want my heroine to be such-and-so, and she keeps being who-and-what. I want my son to enjoy reading, and he likes making shooting nerf darts at me while I cook. I am learning: Let them be.
~Listening is generally the best approach. When I’m having troubles with my child, when I feel like we’re miles apart, generally it’s me who’s missing the crucial ‘ah-ha’ moment of connection. I’m talking and insisting too much. I need to step back and listen more, and stop worrying about my tidy little plotline. Or my dinner plans.
~ They will do things we NEVER expected, if we just loosen up a little bit and give them space.
~ They are magic. Transformational. They change us. They change everything.
~ But mostly, we don’t have to fix them because they aren’t broken. We just have to get better at loving them. Thank-you God.
Kris writes hot, adventure-filled historical romances set in England and Ireland. Her current release, DECEPTION received 4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews and is available now! Visit her website to sign-up for the newsletter, read exclusive excerpts, or just drop Kris a line saying Hi!