Writers compare their books to children all the time. Having two children of my own and being way too literal minded, I used to think this comparison was dumb.
True, writing requires bucket loads of time, energy, emotion and passion, just like raising children. And also true, writing is sometimes a thankless job, like parenting. True again, that writing is something that never feels finished, a lifelong job, just like parenting.
The similarities were plain but the comparison never felt apt because, say what you will about a good book, it's still not a living breathing human being. It took the publication of Losing Beauty for me to understand the comparison.
With kids, there are all kinds of rejections. The early ones get you ready for the later ones. At two years old Child #1 declared the French navy blue jumper decorated with pale pink rosebuds I had purchased for a special event to be a "no go." Instead she wore a baseball shirt proclaiming Brooklyn in big red letters and a pair of jeans.
Saturday night, on the way out to dinner I kissed her good bye. She stopped what she was doing long enough to look me up and down and say, "Umm, no offense, but I hope you're friends like what you're wearing better than I do. Jumpsuits are sort of weird." Which would have been offensive, if she hadn't been rejecting my fashion choices since the age of two.
Writers get similar rejections; the agent rejections, the magazine rejections and finally the publication rejections. Those first rejections hurt. I really wanted Child #1 to wear that navy blue jumper, in much the same way I wanted my first book to get published. In retrospect, I realize the unworn jumper and unpublished book made all the rejections that followed a tiny bit easier.
On Friday I mentioned my fears about sending my daughter to kindergarten. I was terrified the people she met wouldn't appreciate her or understand all her nuances.
Guess what? They didn't. Not all of them anyway.
In the years since kindergarten I've been forced to come to terms with the fact that when people look at my kids they don't always see the same things I do. I've also learned some people DO see the things I love about my kids.
In much the same way, there are people who love Losing Beauty and understand exactly what I was trying to convey. And there are people who don't.
Fortunately, sending my human babies off to school was the perfect preparation for the latter group. To the bad reviews or the people who don't see the good things about my children I have the same response; a small shrug and the knowledge that, in the end, it's really their loss.
And now I'm curious, what experiences have helped you develop thick skin and the ability to accept rejection?