When this year started so many new things were on my horizon. With a weathered eye and purposeful ambitions, I aimed my spyglass toward the wonderful adventures ahead. What I didn’t anticipate however, were the days and nights when my schedule would take on a life of its own. This is typical, isn’t it?
Lately, I’ve felt more like an aged seafaring sailor questioning why I spend so much time invisioning other lives and adventures when I have my own to experience. It would be easier if I’d chosen to be a landlubber instead of listening to the notorious voices in my head. But I do listen. And because I do, these days I’ve found myself working on a new project, returning from a much needed vacation, and spending two weeks taking care of my newest grandson. In the process, he’s helped me realize a few important things. Babies and books have a lot in common because both need love and attention. Oh yes, they do!
What would that entail, you ask? (Well, I can honestly say after spending a glorious week in Cancun, it unfortunately doesn’t involve rum. Unless characters require it, like mine do. Heehee! Pirate!)
But I digress… Imagine the simularities. Babies and books. Newborns and fresh ideas. My grandson has brought this to the forefront of my mind and here’s my rendition of how babies do it too.
New life: A fresh story idea is a newborn with countless possibilities and needs that call for immediate attention. For instance, I’ve been unable to write while taking care of my grandson. His needs are immediate and must be met right away. Whereas, a new story idea demands a writer‘s time, concentration, and persistence. A fresh story enlists endurance and determination or else it will never get written. Alas, right now, these two things are vying for control and I have to admit, my grandson is winning.
Feedings: In order for a story to grow, the muse must be fed with inspiration just as a baby is fed mother’s milk. Richly fortified, a writer must feed his/her imagination with varied sources in order to produce a well-nourished manuscript. There is nothing better than seeing a baby and a book come to fruition! (The sight of Captain Jack poised on the bow might also do the trick!)
Warmth/Love: All babies require warmth, be it via a mother’s loving embrace or a cuddly blanket. The same could be said for a work-in-progress. There’s an amount of love that must be brought to each story and threads that must be interwoven to achieve the desired affect. Via storyboards, plot graphs, or flying by the seat of your pants parenting, respect and courage are involved. (As well as a compass that points to what you want most. Possibly rum! But more likely milk.)
Diaper changes: No one likes a smelly baby and babies aren’t capable of cleaning themselves. It’s a 24/7 task before potty-training takes hold. A book isn’t any different. Through the editing and revising process, a story must be cleaned, either as you go along or in phases, before it can be sent off to an editor or agent. Scenes must be cut and plots sculpted to build the framework for the final product, happy baby or finished book.
Playtime: Learning is a great benefit to a baby as it grows. Parents need to reinforce learning via games/playtime, which enable children to maintain what is learned. Likewise, writers need to vary their own reading habits, taking in other genres and styles, freshening their skills via classes or workshops. From infancy to old age, learning never stops. The same can be said for writers honing their craft.
And there you have it! From infancy and childhood to adulthood, there will always be room to grow, me hearties!!! I hope that’s one lesson that me and my grandchildren never forget.
Books follow this pattern too. Why else would stories by Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, and the Bronte’s still grasp our hearts? What makes generation after generation read J.R.R. Tolkien? Why can’t we get enough Jane Austen movies, books, or biographies? Like aged wine, these writers as well as stories they’ve written have lived on, encapsulating new generations of readers.
I hope to be so lucky. It’s my fervent desire to leave a lasting impression on my grandchildren and through future generations via my life and the books I write.
What lessons stand out to you and how have you applied them? How do you want to be remembered?