Not My Baby

You'll often hear authors compare their books to their babies. I've done it myself. Recently I gave a new writer a piece of editing advice that put that notion out of my head.

Think about the editorial process. Do we really want to compare that to parenting? When our kids are young we might cut their hair, but we don't rearrange their limbs or remove anything that can't grow back. We don't mark them up with red pen...although sometimes we have to scrub off whatever they've marked themselves up with. We love our children unconditionally (or should) but that's an unhealthy relationship to have with one's writing.

Writing a novel is like planting a garden. Maybe you start with a plan, or maybe you plant willy nilly. Either way, eventually you need to weed and prune.  You have to stand back and see if there are gaps that need to be filled, or areas that need thinning out. And, even the most beautiful flower might be in the wrong place. Maybe it can be moved, but maybe it just has to be set aside for another garden.

To be honest, I'm pretty laissez faire about my actual garden. I try to keep the noxious weeds out but, by this time of year, things have pretty much gone wild. I save my ruthless culling (and some ruthless cunning) for my writing. Later, if my editor wants me to cut more, I'm better prepared. I don't take it as a personal attack (most of the time), because the manuscript isn't my baby. It's my work. And I want my work to be the best I can do.

Question: If writing a novel is like planting a garden, is a hanging planter the equivalent to a short story?

Everything you need to know is here: 


WW2 Podcast:

I discovered this podcast in the summer. If you're interested in World War II, Angus Wallace's podcast is a real find. He talks to experts who have thoroughly research some facet of the war. His guests include academics, journalists and dedicated amateur historians. The latter are usually speaking about research they've done on their own families.

Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue
By Kathryn J. Atwood
This was on my wish list last month. I ended up buying it for myself when I needed to round up an order from Amazon to get free delivery. Meanwhile, I got Women Heroes of World War I out of the library... youth department. Since some of the more intelligent books I've read were meant for children, this didn't deter me. The books were a quicker read than I expected, but still informative and interesting.


  1. Some interesting comparisons there, Ali. You are right - unconditional love of one's writing is folly. It's easy to write for oneself. Writing for a thousand readers - that's a lot tougher.

    1. I was given an interesting comparison by an older new author who said her novel was like a 43 year old son who wouldn't move out of the basement.


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