Saturday, August 11, 2012

Of Novels and Children


My novels are my children.  They are the product of the conscious desire to bring them into the world, but they are not really mine.  I have a degree of influence upon them, particularly in the beginning, but they go their own way as they mature.  I can to imprison them perpetually on my computer and never let them see the light of day (publication) or even kill them by deleting them. But I do not really have control of them.  Do you control your children?

My novels go their own way because the characters in them decide their own fate. I can provide guidance and suggestions, just like any good parent, but ultimately my characters have free will and defy attempts to force them to do things they do not want.  Characters prefer to commit suicide than be misused, so there really is no alternative to letting them go their own way.

But, of course, that is the greatest pleasure of parenting and writing: not knowing where you are going to end up when you start out upon the journey!  You start off with some good intentions and pointed in a certain direction, but you cannot see far enough to know where you will end.   Along the way, children (and novels) will surprise you with their unexpected behavior. They will make you re-think your own values, test your patience and your temper, but ultimately reward you by teaching you things about yourself and life, and human nature. They will show you things you could not have done or imagined on your own.

No child and no novel are ever perfect. They all have flaws, weaknesses, quirks and blemishes. Some will be more popular than others. Some will have virtues that too few others (outsiders) recognize. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we have our favorites – but we love them all, the good and the not so good. 

This is the principal reason I find it so very difficult to sell my children.  How can I put a price on my children’s heads? How can I praise them like a “product?” How can I expose them to the criticism of heartless reviewers? Or compare them to others? Obviously, I must – just as a parent must encourage their children to face real-life competition for employment and affection. I must trust them, have faith in them, and stand by them even if they experience set-backs and rejection.

They are my children.

(This comment was first published on "Blogging Authors" July 25.

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