Thursday, 20 August 2015

Raising Your Book

I've seen a few things on twitter and facebook recently about the author cycle of woe. For those of you who don't know it's an author thing where you start off loving the thing you're creating, then hate it, then love, then hate it, then... it just goes on for a bit.

I'm pretty sure most authors go through the same thing too. When you dedicate so much of your life to creating and raising a thing, you inevitably want some time away from it occasionally. You want some time to yourself where you're not considering how a plot development makes no sense, or how a character is going to pop up in one place after being beheaded in another.

It dawned on me that cycle might be a lot like having a child:

At conception stages you have this idea and it seems so new and wonderful and it has the potential to be anything and it's so fun dreaming about it.

As time goes on and it become bigger and more fleshed out in your head, you start to just wish it was here already rather than still a concept.

Once it starts being down on paper it finally starts to feel real and you love it with all your heart. You wonder at its complexity and hope it will turn out how you dreamed it would. You tell everyone about it and can't wait for them, and you, to see what it will turn into.

Then the book starts asking questions. Relentlessly asking questions. It's still growing and it's taking you down paths you couldn't have foreseen and asking stupid questions like “why is something happening?” and “how does magic work?”. Not to mention the shit. For every 10 words you feed into the bloody thing, you find yourself deleting at least 3 of them.

Eventually it passes out of that oh so annoying phase and into something that you truly enjoy, something you find it fun to be around and want to play with, want to show new things to. Maybe you even show it off a bit to a few friends and they say they love it. Definitely coming along well at this point but it keeps waking you up in the middle of the night with its needs.

Then it heads off to school and for a while you find yourself at peace... I think the metaphor just collapsed a bit here. But the problem is that now it thinks it knows everything. You want to add a new plot into the book, but it already knows better and thinks you're wrong because its friend's dad does thing a different way. Bear with me, we only lost a little cohesion there.

The book hits high school and you almost think you're done with the bastard thing. It's a smarmy cock of a book these days but hopefully the editor will straighten it out.

That first school report is a bit much though. The editor calls you in and tells you your book is pretty good at English, but its failing Science hard. To top it off it keeps staring out the window and day dreaming instead of getting to the actual plot. Maybe you even get told that your book is a bad influence on the other books and thinks it's smarter than it actually is, constantly telling jokes no one else gets... Maybe my school reports just looked a little differently from others.

Over the course of its teenage years the books goes through many rewrites. Constantly having to be put down and told to shut up, maybe even sent to its room a few times. You hate it. You love it because it's yours, but you hate it because it's bloody obnoxious and it's devoured your life for so damned long... and it keeps getting in trouble with the editor.

Then finally. FINALLY! It finishes education and gets released into the real world. It's sink or swim now and you can only hope it swims. Not everyone likes it and that's to be expected, but you're proud of what you've created and you love it with all your heart... even if it does keep coming back and telling you you used “spun” instead of “span”.



Rob J. Hayes is the author of the acclaimed The Ties that Bind trilogy. Find out more on his website here.

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