Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Order and Birth Order

To me, the order in which you write your books is a lot like the birth order of your children. When I had my first son, I obsessed over every tiny detail, from the moment I got pregnant until...well, I still kind of obsess about the details. Because he's my first. My trial run. The one where I learn what NOT to do, so I can make fewer mistakes with the second (and truth be told, you STILL make mistakes with the second, am I right?).

The same goes with writing your first book. When I first got pregnant, I read a ton of books on being pregnant and parenting, like What to Expect When You're Expecting, My Pregnancy Week by Week, and Babywise. (Parent note: DO NOT SKIP AHEAD IN THESE BOOKS, because you will completely freak yourself out and you will think that everything that could possibly go wrong in your pregnancy IS going wrong at that very moment. Trust me, I've done the research!)

Likewise, when I first got the idea to write a novel I started reading up on the craft of writing. I started with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel, because at the time, that's exactly what I felt like: a complete IDIOT. I also read On Writing, Plot & Structure, and Writing the Breakout Novel. Much like reading ahead in the parenting books, I completely freaked myself out writing my first draft, because I was so terrified that I was doing it wrong that it completely killed my confidence. (I recommend reading one book on craft, THEN writing the first draft the way you want to write it, THEN reading the rest of the books to perfect it in the editing stage.)

Did I get everything right with my first child? Only time will tell (and I'm sure his therapist will one day give me a definitive "no" on that one!). Did I get everything right with my first book? I can say with certainty NO. But I've learned...hoo boy, have I learned. And the second go 'round has been much more painless than the first.

What do you think? Does the first child/first book - second child/second book theory hold true for you? If you're not a parent, do you feel like your second book has come easier than the first?


  1. Great analogy and I'm sure you've done great will all your children, birthed one way or another.... :O)

  2. As we say to my first daughter, "Put a dollar in the therapy jar. You're gonna need it!"

    I'm only half kidding.

  3. Diane - thank you for that.
    Woven Moments (it's Ryan, right?) - I'm DYING over here. So funny!

  4. Oh my gosh, that's great! LOL! Yes, I think with the third child (book)etc... you do get a little more lax.

  5. Definitely true on both counts. With a book or a child, you learn so much on the first go 'round.

  6. I love this!!!!!!!! You are so right on it's not even funny!!!! Super post.

  7. This is so true. The problem was, even though I read all the books on babies, I sloughed off most of the advice and did it my way. Which is why Monster Child is the way she is today.

    It didn't occur to me to read craft books until I wrote my second book. And still sloughed off the advice. Which is why this book came back somewhat rejected.

    However, now on book 3, I have used ALL the advice, and think I've crafted a pretty spectacular story. We'll see what happens in query land.

    And I still only have one child. She's more than enough.

  8. I was so much more laid-back with my second pregnancy. And that stinking what-to-expect book freaked me out with it's too healthy food suggestions. The second go-round I enjoyed McFlurries guilt free!

  9. Jennifer - Thank you. And also, since you're all P90x'd up, would you be my bodyguard? ;p
    Laura - You would certainly know a thing or two about it! :)
    T. Anne - 1) I don't think I'll ever get used to calling you Tana 2) Thank you!
    Anne - So it's a balance between too much advice and not enough, no? Great thoughts.
    Jill - With my second I ate sugary cereals like it was MY JOB! McFlurries were more my husbands arena ;P

  10. I loved this, Beth! It's soooo true. I hope I'm improving as I continue to write and edit both in writing and parenting.

  11. nice one! Everything has to be pondered. We cannot get through it easily. we just have to be patient to get things done. Mistakes are lessons to be learned.

    krish from barbecue charbon