I read somewhere that a book is like a baby for an author. This analogy sounds nice, but until you actually write a book and release it, you don’t fully get it. Well, at least I didn’t, until now.
Having four biological children, one non-fiction book published four years ago, and one fiction book to be launched in four weeks (why am I so obsessed with the number 4?), I can fully appreciate this analogy.
Here’s how I see the book’s life cycle:
Conception → Pregnancy → Baby and Toddler → Annoying Teenager → College or Vocational School Admission → Free Sailing → Death or Immortality
Conceivement (= Idea)
Like in life, this is the fun part. You think of an idea and imagine all the fantastic success that will follow, with raving fans and even more raving critics. You’re filled with pure enjoyment.
Pregnancy (= Writing)
This is the next stage – actual writing.
It’s like experiencing morning sickness. You’re constantly tired and annoyed, plans change, moods swing, and fat accumulates. You experience sleep deprivation, worry, and horror. While I personally should never experience any of these due to my personal biology, I can swear that I did experience all of them during my two terms as a supportive husband of my pregnant wife. Except for morning sickness. I don’t remember having them.
And of course, everyone tells you how great the baby will be, that they believe in you, that you always will have them to lean on, that everything will be alright, and that life will be just the most beautiful afterward.
Delivery == “The End.”
Baby and Toddler ( = Self-Editing)
It cannot yet walk or talk. Poop is everywhere. You continuously ask for expert advice, even if it’s your N’th creation. It wakes you at night. You have existential worries for every fever or cough. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, after you slept exactly 12 minutes prior to being awakened again, you wonder if it wouldn’t be better if you just killed it (unless you’re a saint, which I wasn’t, as this thought visited me twice, and on each visit, it stayed for a year on almost every night). But you forgive and forget everything when in the morning, the baby smiles back at you.
And then it starts to walk and talk, and you know there is hope.
Annoying Teenager ( = Professional Editors Step In)
That’s when your not-yet-so-smart child disagrees with mostly everything you tell or suggest. You lose your patience, want to kill your child more than once, or better yet, throw them away from home so they learn life. You spend too much time thinking about where you were wrong in the previous stages. Or worst – why you deserve it.
College or Vocational School Admission ( = Publishing or Self-Publishing)
You made it. Finally, your child is out in the wild. If you’re lucky, you can brag that they’re in Ivy. Or you will always make excuses why vocational school is a good choice at this stage. In any case, you’re happy or pretend to be. The burden is finally lifted. You’re not responsible for your creation anymore. Or so you wish.
Free Sailing ( = Post Publication Acceptance)
You have absolutely no idea or control over what happens next. Your child can become a Nobel Prize winner, a regular person with a regular life, or a drunkard. There are, of course, a few options in between.
But none of that depends on you now. However, no matter what, everyone will judge you on how well you raised your child. And deep inside, you know they are right, which eats you alive in most cases. Unfortunately, none of the previous steps is repairable, so you need to deal with whatever happens now with the best poker face you can master.
Death or Immortality ( = Death or Immortality)
My moral code does not allow me to talk about the first part, so let’s hope that your creation acquired the status of immortal. After all, Homer, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky succeeded, so why not you?