Writing this blog has helped me realize several things. One is the fact that I probably need serious therapy. I mean, really, who confesses to being a failure of a coffee drinker, gushes about being rejected and then posts about having intimate relationships with the main characters from their novels? Well, probably most aspiring authors, but that’s not the point. I’m starting to suspect I have daddy issues. (Just kidding Dad. Love ya!) But I’ve also realized that writing a novel is like a relationship. So here are the top ten ways the two activities are similar.
Top Ten Ways Writing a Novel is Like a Relationship
- You learn all of your main characters dirty little secrets, and you finish his/her sentences. You laugh when they laugh (because it means you’re funny!) You cry when they fail or are hurt. You want them to succeed, but sometimes you’ll hurt them to help them get there. And you’re constantly trying to change them to be what you want. (Not necessarily a hallmark of great relationships, but still pretty common.)
- First impressions are important. Even though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, most people do. And even if they’re willing to look a little deeper, they usually know by the end of the first conversation if they’re willing to give it a try.
- Sometimes things will be great. Especially in the beginning. You’ll get along great, and even when you don’t you’ll brush it off. Everything will be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns that poop marshmallows (which I hear taste awesome if you add sprinkles. I can’t claim ownership of that beautiful imagery, but I still love it.)
- Sometimes things will be tough. Your main character may not see eye-to-eye with your vision of where you want things to go. You might fight because you put the roll of toilet paper on backwards (something I didn’t realize was a sin until I started dating my husband.) There will be times where you’ll feel like you’re wading knee-deep through mashed potatoes (without gravy) just to make progress.
- In the beginning of a really good one, things are all fireworks and sparks and excitement. You’re incapable of thinking of anything else. Not your kids (if you have them), your real job (if you have one), or cleaning the house. The only thing you can think about is spending some more time together. When you finally manage to fall asleep at night, you’re thinking about where things will go next and where they’ve already been.
- Everyone has their own taste. They may like skinny or thick, funny or serious, young, blonde and charming, or old and crotchety. You have to pick what works best for you and stick with it regardless of what everyone else likes. Because if you try and make it work with someone who really doesn’t fit your style, it’s going to be painful for both of you.
- Sometimes you have to share with others! Okay, so maybe that’s not typical in most relationships, but it works for some people. Those swing parties that people have are disturbingly similar to a critique group. Everyone brings theirs and lets other people take it home.
- Juggling more than one is not easy. I made the mistake of starting a new relationship with Joann after promising Phoebe that I’d spend more time with her. But Phoebe and I were struggling to get by, and what Joann and I have is new and exciting.
- Sometimes it ends. You may reach a point where it just isn’t working, and you have to move on to something new. Or, after a dozen revisions, it may be time to start seeing other people (hopefully agents or editors for your manuscript, and new characters for you.) One way or another, you have to move on and let go.
- If you’re in another relationship (ie married, like I am) your significant other is constantly jealous and suspicious. You find yourself lying to cover things up. (Him: Why are you so quiet? Me: I’m thinking about . . . umm . . . the stars. Yeah, the stars. I’m certainly not thinking about the next conversation between my main character and her love interest and how they’re going to resolve their fight.)
What do you think? Are there ways that I’m missing? Let me know.