Today marks two years to the day that I first sat down and began writing this novel. Today is also, coincidentally, Mothers’ Day (in the UK) and, this week, I have celebrated my son’s third birthday. All these birthdays and reminders of motherhood have got me thinking; writing a novel is a lot like parenting.
Take the characters for example. Like my children, I know them inside out. Their favourite foods, what they like to wear/read/sing, what they really hate. I can predict (horribly, I admit) their bowel movements. However, there is also the moments when they surprise me, when I sit down to write a scene and the dialogue comes from nowhere, full of unexpected, wonderful quips or insights and I become oddly proud of these fictional souls. Despite the fact I have invented them, they sometimes seem to be growing outside of my influence.
The parental worry and near constant guilt is another factor. I can’t count how many times I have worried for my characters, felt genuinely guilty for the awful things I do to these lovely creatures. Much in the same way that I felt guilty leaving my daughter at school when she didn’t want to go. I have lain awake at night concerned about how to deal with a particular character’s behaviour, have worried at how one character will react to another’s death.
And then there is the very scary parental worry about letting your beloved fly off into the big, bad world without you. Will they be understood? Will people like them? Will they change under the influence of their peers (or, in this case, editors.) Thankfully I have a few years before I have to worry about this in earnest for my real life children. But, as for my baby of a novel, hopefully it won’t be quit