There are some figures of speech that are so prevalent that one tends to read them without thinking about the metomyny. Recently however, in three different articles by different writers about their novels, I encountered the conceit of a book as a “baby” and the repetition has driven me to consider that particular analogy.
I have come to the conclusion that it’s nonsense.
I know babies, I fathered three of them. I was present when each of them were born–in fact I midwifed the third because the midwife we were paying ended up not returning my page until after the birth.
I have fed babies, changed them, carried them around, held them when they slept and held them when they wouldn’t sleep. I love my children, and now that they are grown I don’t see enough of them.
I love my books, too, but they are not my babies.
My books are things that I have built. They are collections of words, either as electronic files or ink on a page. They are not alive, they don’t have feelings, and I don’t have to protect or nurture or watch over them. Some folks like them, some folks don’t.
Once I am done with a project I don’t really care what happens to it. It would be nice if I could make more money than I do from sales of my books, certainly, but I’ve realized that I am a terrible salesman and spending time trying to promote my books has very little impact on sales and just makes me grumpier than usual.
I can’t remember the last time I logged into Amazon to check my sales numbers. I just checked to see if I have any reviews (I don’t) but only because writing this made me think of it. Before that… it’s not something I do.
I write because I like to write, and it’s fun to play with ideas. I really enjoy it when people like my books and say nice things about them, but trying to compare that feeling with how I felt at my daughter’s wedding, for example, is absurd.
I am almost finished with my third novel. I have enjoyed making it, and I think it’s pretty good. I will be interested in how people react to it–I certainly hope that people who enjoyed the first two will like this one as well.
It’s not a baby, though. It’s a book. I think that figures of speech are important, and I think the ones that we use unconsciously are perhaps the most important, because they reveal attitudes that are unconscious. My books are not children, they are products that I produce. That’s all.