"In a weak moment,I have written a book..."
Thursday, May 10, 2012
THE BIRTH ORDER OF BOOKS
Because I'm a mom, I see everything in relation to my kids.
My hubby asks: "What's for dinner?"
I think: "What will little Johnny eat?"
A friend asks: "What are you doing this weekend?"
I scroll through my mental calendar of the kids' sports and birthday parties.
Virtually everything that goes through my mind, somehow centers around my kids. It's just the way it is...and I suspect that most moms would say the same thing.
So it's no surprise that when asked if I favor one of my books over another, I genuinely couldn't choose. How does a mother choose one baby over another? She doesn't. And that's just what my books are to me: my babies. Like our children, I believe that there is a definite birth order effect on each book that we writers produce.
The FIRST BOOK is just that - the first. It's the book that makes us writers. So there's no question that we hold a soft spot for this first book. We may not have known all the tricks of the trade when we set out to write it, and we may have made mistakes that veteran writers can spot at a glance - but for each of us, this first book is a piece of magic. We knew a book was the end result of our labor...we knew what was coming, but it surprised us nonetheless. It was truly a labor of love. There will never be another first.
Now the SECOND BOOK is a bit different. It is in every way, the middle child. We feel more confident in our abilities and we know how it will feel to hold it in our hands when the last word is written. We are prepared for the inevitable fear that comes with sending it out into the world, so young and defenseless. We can visualize it. As a second time author, we know that we don't know everything, but we see that this second book will be a happy sibling to our first and a stepping stone to our third and others as yet unimagined. The second book is our friend, we settle in and enjoy it.
Then there's the MOST RECENT BOOK...it's the baby among our completed work and as such it is precious in a totally different way. This is the one that you are now spending most of your waking hours with and feeding on demand...it is helpless without you and as such gets all the attention (for a little while at least). It's the one that you know you can write, the one that you can almost predict how long each chapter will take and map out more specifically than any other piece. You know where your third child will go to school before they even exit the womb, so too as a writer, you know how this third book will progress before you put pen to paper. It's all "fleshed out" in your mind from the start. There are no surprises. Things go as planned and you can breathe. But the ending is bittersweet. Is this the last? Will there be more? Only time will tell...
But though birth order affects our relation to our work, one could never take the place of another. The first is not more important than the third, the second not more loved than the first. Each holds a unique place in our history as the Mother Author and each plays a role in our success. Life is a journey and so too is writing.
And all I know for certain is that each piece we write is a gift.