Great Expectations: Fatherhood vs. Authorhood

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I’ve heard about authors saying that releasing your book to the world is like becoming a new parent – all that excitement and anxiety.

Since my book and my first child were separated by little more than one month, I believe I have a unique perspective on this and I’m prepared to make the definitive statement on the matter:

Releasing a book is nothing like having your first child. I suspect, if I would have been the one doing the pushing, sweating, and contracting for 23 hours, I would be even more adamant about this, if not offended by the comparison.

Sure, I’m concerned about how my book is perceived by the world-at-large, but what little (I’m lucky) criticism the book has received has only made my skin thicker. My book doesn’t care whether it’s loved or not, it won’t get sick, it doesn’t need its diaper changed, it won’t poop on me, I don’t have to hold its hand while it gets shots, and then feel my heart ache as it cries.  My book can take whatever life throws at it because I can take it.

Books don’t feel or love, authors do.

As an author you are putting yourself out there.  You dedicate years of work into producing your book. If you didn’t temper your expectations, you might have put all your hopes in dreams into your book.  Then you might find yourself foolishly saying, “Releasing a book to the world is like becoming a father/mother.” If so, first, get a life, and then get some perspective.

Our little baby Harper has laid my heart wide open.  I’ve never felt more vulnerable, content, lucky, emotional, worried, and happy than I do now that she’s here.  I guarantee you that Mark Twain who had four children and Charles Dickens who had ten, loved their kids more than any of their masterworks.  I recently read Twain’s biography. He lost three children and I know he would have traded “Huckleberry Finn” or “Tom Sawyer” for just one more day with any of them.

Babies are easier to make than books, but once they arrive they demand much more attention and offer way more reward.

I’m proud of Where Am I Wearing? and I’m excited that quite a few teachers and professors will be introducing the book in their classes this Fall. I hope it will change some folk’s view of the world, but I’m realistic about what it can accomplish.

I’m saving all of my unrealistic expectations for Harper.

With talent like you’ll see in this video, how could a father not have great expectations?

Related: Read Adventure Dad on WorldHum

 
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Larry says:

My wife and kids were away in Saratoga this week. I thought I would love the free reign over the clicker and a quite house. I hated it. Every silent minute of it. Wait until you see the great things Harper will accomplish with talented and loving parents, like you and Annie to guide her.

Kyle says:

I love the semi-stunned look on her face after she fell off the step. “How the heck did I end up here? And why is Dad laughing?”

Kelsey says:

Larry, Sorry to hear you were lonely all week. I hope your house is bustling with noise this weekend.

Kyle, I’m glad they make babies from rubber. She’s nearly indestructible.

amy says:

Great post… even better pic and video of the adorable kiddo. Seriously, how can anyone resist those chubby arms, legs, and cheeks?

Jenn says:

LOVE that picture. I love how happy she is.

Patti says:

It’s nice to hear that your priorities are in order. For Harper’s sake, that’s a great thing.

In regard to this part “You dedicate years of work into producing your book. If you didn’t temper your expectations, you might have put all your hopes in dreams into your book. Then you might find yourself foolishly saying, “Releasing a book to the world is like becoming a father/mother.” If so, first, get a life, and then get some perspective.”

I would ask you to consider that not everyone can so easily “get a life.” Not everyone has a spouse or significant other. Not everyone has children. Not everyone has a family of origin where they can return for comfort or support. The painful void of not having those things might make a person need to put all their hopes and dreams into their book. They might need that, to keep the hope for something good in their lives alive.

There’s truth in what you said. I would give anything to have had a father who loved and valued me half as much as you do your child.

Kelsey says:

Amy – I cannot resist those arms and legs.

Jenn – She’s always happy.

Patti –

Great point.

I’m lucky and I know it. Sorry if I came off like I took my luck for granted. I don’t.

Still, anyone that isn’t blessed with a great family, would be wise to temper their literary expectations. Hanging everything on a book is dangerous. Books, like people, have a funny way of not living up to expectations, disappointing, and not showing up at all.

Even if you take away my family there is a lot that brings me joy: hiking, reading, jogging, dogs, swimming, music, and writing. My writing doesn’t have to be published to bring joy into my life either.

You might not have a close family, but I’ve heard you laugh. Yours isn’t a laugh that doesn’t know joy. You’ve got some pretty good friends too.

Let your voice be heard!