Why in heaven’s name would I consider self-publishing my first novel instead of giving it to someone else to grapple with? I’ve been asked that a lot recently, often by other writers but also loyal blog readers supportive of the gestation of my works of fiction. The answer came to me out of the blue, as it were, when I was working on a creativity seminar I’ll be giving with my writing partner in February, 2014. I was taking notes on the phenomenon of creative artists separating themselves from their creation once it’s done; that same miracle so many writers experience when they’ve decided their creation looks like the original vision they had for it (without a lot of pejorative mumbo jumbo). That’s when they set it completely free.
Cole Porter used to talk about that marvel when he was in the audience watching one of his plays, and writers describe it all the time—reading and enjoying their own work as if someone else had written it. Where the hell did that book come from? They don’t know, even though they’ve just spent years agonizing over its creation. I’ve always felt that way about my children. I love them dearly but I see them as completely separate entities, and I felt that as soon as they’d matured past childhood. That thought took me down the path of least resistance, and suddenly I saw that creating a book is like having a child. I know other people have said so, but I’ve never given it much consideration or credence; until now.
The end of the creative writing process is when you bring your book out in the world on its own. But—and I’m trying to run with this connection here—most people who’ve had children would admit the process doesn’t end at birth. There’s a lot of energy a parent still has to put into the child before maturity. Of course we all know people who won’t ever let go of their children, no matter how far along life’s path their offspring have ventured. Those are the creators who can never separate themselves from their creations. I feel now as if self-publishing is the last thing I have to do for my literary creation before I turn it loose in the world. It seems my parenting style holds true for my writing as well.
Like natural childbirth, I want to be the one to bring my book out, and not turn it over to others at the last minute because I think I might not be able to deal with the pain or I’m tired of it. This has nothing to do with wanting to control everything myself or not trusting others to help me. I’m a firm believer in receiving all the help I can get. Self-publishing is just the natural end of the creative process for me. I wanted all of you to share in this revelation since you asked the question about my motivation so emphatically. Therefore, when my first novel Mistaken Identities is ready to go out in the world, presumably early this spring, I’ll send you a birth announcement and invite you to have a look at the newborn yourselves. Naturally you’ll be part of every literary birth announcement to come in the future, too.
Yes, I do believe the pull to be creative, which is so much a part of our universe and explained in stories and myths handed down through the ages, is in each one of us and everything alive. Stars have been very much a part of that magnetism and those stories, too, and I thank my lucky ones for where they’ve led me in these past few years. Creating, and then moving on with the energy from one conception to the next, is an adventure I call a gift; one we should all be thrilled to receive. What a wonderful time of the year for everyone to assess their own creativity—when so much of the world prepares for the story of the creation of another. A child is born—a gift is given. Thank you all for sharing and aiding in my creative process all year long on this blog. It’s been a divine experience for me in every way, and I hope the collaboration has given you some insight into your own creativity.