November has brought two very exciting releases to my life.
(One of these makes sure the other gets fed.*)
That’s my son, Idris, and my second novel, Brimstone Angels. So far both are getting excellent reviews, although honestly most of Idris’s reviewers are slightly biased. We really cannot say for certain if he is the cutest baby boy in the whole goddamned world.** But I think its probably a close thing.
A lot of authors will refer to their books as their babies–I’ve done it myself a time or two, especially when pressed by well-meaning relations about when I was planning to procreate. “My book’s my baby right now.” And, having had both now, I can say for certain there are a lot of ways in which they’re similar.
1. They take about nine months to produce. At least, the first draft of Brimstone Angels took about that long. I had pretty much finished the first draft when I found out there was a baby on the way.
2. You want to talk about both all the time, but suspect that people would rather talk about something else. Possibly their own kids/books. Still, you angle the car seat towards people and keep a copy of the novel in the diaper bag, in case it comes up.
3. Creating them kills your social life. Whether it’s going to bed at 9 because you’re exhausted from growing a person or going from day job straight to laptop to get that chapter done, no one sees you for ages.
4. Holding them for the first time is cognitively disorienting. It’s hard to believe you actually made this.
5. Naming them is impossible.
6. There is a point, just before you’re finished, where you panic and think you’re never, ever going to manage this. And then you do, because the part of you doing the work of labor or writing is not the part doing the judging–and at some point the judger/editor has to shut up and let you get it done.
7. You want to hear what people think of them. Even though you don’t, because you’re so happy with how things turned out. But still–it’s nice to hear other people agree with you.
8. You may have a story that makes people goggle. Brimstone Angels was substantially rewritten in the second draft when my editor pointed out that Farideh had no external arc to speak of and I decided the best way to fix that was to throw out a third of the book and revise the rest. In three months. While I had morning sickness all day long. Idris was born after a sixteen hour, unmedicated labor (with back labor!) where I wasn’t, ahem, ready to push when my body started insisting I push.
9. It will only vaguely occur to you that these are horror stories, because they are simply the things you had to do to get the result you wanted: a book that feels solid, a healthy, happy baby.
10. They have the most adorable toes. Except for the book.
* NB: If your copy of Brimstone Angels tries to eat infants, it’s probably a part of a print run cursed by Baalzebul, Lord of the Seventh. Please return it for an uncursed copy.
** My grandmother, in her forthrightness, ranks him second-cutest.