We’ve all heard this phrase. And I’m sure I’ve used it on this blog. It centers around the idea that you work hard to gestate the concept, cultivate it’s growth, and then set it free out into the world to see how it gets on with others.
While it’s a common metaphor, it’s not realistic for achieving your BEST manuscript and here’s why:
1. You need to be willing to throw your characters off a cliff.
Get them in hot water. Have them make bad decisions. (I don’t recommend this for your baby.) If you’re too close to your characters how is their drama going to be enticing enough for readers? We teach children to participate in conflict resolution, but make sure your fiction explores all angles of inner and interpersonal drama.
2. Writing is not unconditional love.
You have to cut sections that don’t work and expand the ones that do. You have to release your subjectivity and be critical to a fault, constantly questioning and pushing the envelope. Sometimes you have to cut the passages and stop working on projects you really care about stylistically.
3. You have to let it go earlier than you’ll ever be ready. (Okay, this one might be similar to parenthood.)
Manuscripts are constantly in flux and nothing is finished until it’s sent to the printer. Then there’s the hand off: You’ll need an agent and take in their opinion, and then your editor will have feedback, and the list goes on. The hand off of your project and all the minds that continue to massage the concept until it’s ready for public consumption are part of the lengthy process. The book is always your book, but it will be touched by so many others along the way.
4. Rules are made to be broken.
Children need boundaries, but your book can be a rebel. All writers know the dos and don’ts of writing out there. But all writers also know that rules are just guidelines. Great writing often breaks the mold. How are you going to step outside of your comfort zone as a writer?
Image via The Guardian
Q: Do you treat your book like your baby? If not, what tools do you use to avoid it?