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.