Friday, April 13, 2012

Your Baby Is Ugly

'Your Baby Is Ugly'... That is the hardest thing for any proud parent to hear.  Of course almost no one ever tells a proud parent, showing off their new chip that it should have been kept in the oven for another couple months in the hope that it's just not quite done.  What would be the point?  I suppose if you are mean and nasty and liked to make mothers cry and encourage fathers to punch you in the eye, it might be fun. But, that baby is not here for your benefit and enjoyment, it's here entirely for the parent.

Of course, there are other types of babies. Any time you engage in an act of creation, put your heart and soul into a project, that becomes your baby. When that creation is put out there for the entertainment and edification of the public, some people are going to tell you its ugly.  As a recent proud parent of a couple baby novels, I can tell you that it still hurts to hear.  Unfortunately, as a novelist, I need to hear these sorts of criticisms, examine them and look for the truth in the words.

After you have worked and sweated over every detail of your novel, that doesn't mean that it is as good as you can possibly make it. Things that you envision can be completely obvious to you and the words you chose can elegantly invoke the idea you want to convey - in you, without doing the same thing for someone who doesn't share your brain.  That is the reason we have editors.

One of the problems I have run into as a new author looking to self publish my books is that you have to actually PAY for those editorial instincts.  This can be a problem for a fledgling novelist like myself.  What I was hoping to find was an editor who would read my stories and go, "Wow!  If we were to just switch this around and move that over there and have the pencil shoved through his right ear, instead of his left eye, this would be a miracle of modern story telling!"

But, of course, what is much more common is more of along the lines, "Yeeeew. Why does your baby have a third eye?...Yes, I can see that your novel relies heavily on that third eye, but really no one wants to see that."  Even if you kind of realize that eye number three is a bit dodgy, it hurts to hear someone else confirm it.

So hear's a toast to ugly babies and very thick skin

1 comment:

  1. Cheers!

    I'd say you pretty much hit the nail on the head.