There are two types of people in the world; those who insist that relationships that don’t involve children are just the same as having kids, and those who don’t. If you’re in the first camp, you call your dog, cat, employees, friends, plants, car, characters in your novel etc. your kids and become highly indignant when people suggest that since none of those things grew in your body, are legal obligations for 18 years, and basically depend on you for their entire intellectual, emotion, and social well-being for much of their life that you are somewhat deluded. Then there are the people in camp B, who are the ones who make the camp A people so indignant. I guess actually there’s not just two types of people after all, because there’s also the people who have switched camps from one to the other depending on life circumstances.
I am in camp C when it come to Grace Group (my novel, that will be released June 17th if you haven’t been keeping up). After I transitioned from being ‘mom’ to a dog (barf) to being Mommy, I typically don’t think anything really can be equated to parenthood, just because I’ve never encountered anything so all-encompassing, demanding, and capable of eliciting the very best, and the very ugliest, most terrible aspects of my personality. However, now that B-Day (book day) is nigh upon us, I have noticed some similarities, and some differences. For instance:
In both cases, I enjoyed the gestation process very much right up until it was time to deliver. I actually loved being pregnant – even with the twins. I loved the seething potential, the excitement, the thrill of the baby (or babies) kicking, getting presents, and being prescribed cheeseburgers and milkshakes to make sure I was gaining enough weight (true story and best day ever). Similarly, I absolutely love writing books. That’s why I’ve written five. I usually hate re-writing, but even that wasn’t so bad this time around. This process also seethes with potential as I daydream about how this book might encourage people, or how it will be made into a movie and I’ll be the Christian version of JK Rowling and will be able to take amazing family vacations whenever I want. In both cases, though, there is a definitive point when the potential is birthed and ‘stuff’ becomes real.
Can you say Aaaahhhhhhhhh because I can, and do, and have been for the last couple months. I remember when Dreamy and I went to a parenting class when I was about 7 months pregnant with Bisky and it suddenly dawned on me that the baby was actually going to come OUT and I’d have to figure out how to change a diaper and feed her and prevent her from choking. For my whole life I’d had a recurring dream/nightmare that I had a baby but forgot to change/feed/care for it. Driving back from parenting class, I calmly explained to Dreamy how we had to give the baby up for adoption, after which he calmly explained to me that if I did that he’d have to divorce me and raise the baby on his own, and he wasn’t super chill with that. So anyway, that’s kind of like Grace Group in that in 10 days I’ll have a book out there that I’ll have to tend, and market, and arrange for signings and publicity and I don’t know how to do that so it’s weird and scary and awkward and no one wants to adopt it.
Another way having my book released is like having kids is the expectation (albeit one I place on myself). I feel like both are extensions of me and that if people don’t like them, or if they do badly in the world then it means I’ve failed and let them down. This of course, leads to fear and anxiety which never in the history of ever has done any good. The reality is my kids are going to be who they are only partly because of me, probably more in spite of me and realistically independent of me. The difference with my book is that I am 100% responsible for the finished product and if people hate it then it pretty much DOES mean that they hate what I have to say (or how I say it).
Where it’s the same though is that it’s more or less out of my control and actually more or less none of my business. One thing I’ve learned is that choosing to ‘put it out there’ whether it’s through social media, blogging, or writing means that I have to let go after I do it. It’s not like people are breaking into my house and reading my diary, after all. I’m pretty much going to their house, knocking at their door BEGGING them to read it. After that, I figure I lose the right to get in a snit if they don’t like it.
I guess the third way releasing Grace Group feels like parenting has to do with my faith. About six months ago, I wrote how I struggled with how to present my faith in my writing. Much like my character, Holly, I did not become a Christian until the pain of my bad choices became so overwhelming that I finally reached a point of desperation where I became slightly willing to try even ‘that God stuff’ that seemed to work for other people (but which I was pretty sure wouldn’t work for me). I grew up in Canada and now live in Western Washington, and so turning to Christianity was a very uncomfortable process. I was groomed in a society that actively despises what Christians represent. I get it. I grew up ‘knowing’ that fundamentalist Christians were hateful, bigoted, judgmental, ignorant, and dangerous. I blamed most of the problems in our society on these people The most charitable opinion I could muster was that they were naïve and ignorant, but I was pretty sure most of them were actively evil.
And you know what? Some are. Some Christians hurt people. Sometimes I get twisted up between what I know about my God, and how the spirit of religion can get it so wrong. Why do we spend so much time worrying about who’s sin is worse, and which people are making God the most mad, and all that? When I spend too much time there, my joy gets sapped. I wanted to write about the hope, excitement, peace, acceptance, and love I feel from my God. That’s also the God I’m sharing with my children. In both cases, I’ve sent these creations of mine out there, talking about a God in a world that won’t hear them. The world will hear hate, and judgment, and condemnation, even though I’m teaching and writing about a God who saves us from our brokenness, not one who condemns us because of it.
Of course, it makes me far more sad that my kids will be mocked than my book will. At the end of the day, I don’t really think my book will be the Christian Harry Potter because I think CS Lewis already wrote that series and I don’t know if anyone cares anymore. And that’s okay. And I guess by the same token, my kids might not get included everywhere if they hold onto their faith the way I want them to, and that’s okay too.
It’s kind of ironic that Bisky will graduate from preschool (and that’s a whole other blog, believe me) the day before my book is released. I guess it’s only fair, as she came first. And, as the delivery date of this ‘baby’ approaches, I’ll just hold on and remember that despite my terror and trepidation with babies 1, 2, and 3, everything is (for the most part) pretty freaking awesome. Maybe this will be too.