Old Wives’ Tales

First of all, I’d like to announce the random winner of Joanne Bischof’s novel, Be Still My Soul.  


I know Becky will be excited because she’ll be meeting Joanne in person very soon at a book signing!

For those of you who didn’t win, thanks so much for entering, and I hope you can buy your own copy of Be Still My Soul. I know you’re going to want to follow Lonnie and Gideon’s Appalachian love story right into Joanne’s next novel, Though My Heart is Torn.

I’ve been pondering this weekend. Not always a good thing, mind you.

As writers, we know that writing a book and getting it into the world is a lot like childbirth. Different kind of pain, though.

If you’ve carried a child, you’ve doubtless heard some of the old wives’ tales:

If you have heartburn, the baby has a headful of hair.

If you carry low (or toward the front), it’s a boy.

If your skin clears up, it’s a girl (Okay, I made that up, but it sounds legit! Actually, the myth says if you have acne it’s a girl).

If you play violent video games all day, it’s a boy (This was true for me. But, when preggers with my boy, I also cried watching the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty).

If the baby has a fast heartrate, it’s a girl.

And of course, you have to put up with a certain amount of touching of the baby bump by random strangers.

And it occurred to me that carrying our book around is much like carrying a baby.

Our book is prodded and poked and fixed up by almost-strangers.

We get unsolicited advice about which doctor (agent) and which publisher (hospital) to use. Or if we need to do a home-birth (Self-publishing!).

We get lots of advice about whether our book-child will fit in:

“Dystopian steampunk is not selling right now.” 

“Your book isn’t in third person, unlike the rest of the books in your genre.”

“Your book is too short/too long.” 

“We want something with a fresh perspective–different.”

“We’re not able to market something so different.”

“Write your passion.” 

“Write to the market.”

“Write an awesome proposal or you won’t get noticed. By the way, there’s no Lamaze (proposal-writing) class for that, though.”

“You must have a platform three miles high before anyone looks at your book-baby.”

“Your blog has to be flashy to get noticed. Invest in a website (expensive Pre-K).”

The take-away for the writer? I’m reminded of something I just read in my Beth Moore Mercy Triumphs Bible study book:

Let’s quit trying to take people’s pulse to see how much they love us. ‘Am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ’ (Gal. 1:10). If you can get people pleased, YOU CANNOT KEEP THEM PLEASED (emphasis mine).”

I think we need to nod and thank people for their help. They really mean well. But no one can know your book like you do. No one has put the tears and late-nights and prayers into it like you have. You are the ultimate one given responsibility to make the right choices for your book-baby, just like a real mom/dad have to make choices for their child. 

In other words, you take the good and leave the bad. You don’t let the advice weigh you down and plunge you into an apathetic abyss, where you could care less what happens to that child. 

And let’s bring our book-babies, healthy and whole, into this world. Babies we’ve loved from their conception.

****I cannot WAIT for your input here! Give me the most unhelpful piece of advice you’ve been given, whether for your REAL baby or your BOOK-BABY!****


10 thoughts on “Old Wives’ Tales

  1. Excellent analogy…writing is sometimes like having a baby…and if I ever got published I would feel like Sarah who was 80 years old when she bore a son to Abraham.I'm with you and Beth…better to please Jesus than others!

  2. Yes, Glenda, I know, sometimes you feel the time slipping away as we wait for that book-baby to come into the world! But it's so true. We have to write what God puts on our hearts, then just pray it sees the light of day!

  3. Great article 🙂 I fall into this trap. I have to keep praying for God to establish the work of my hands! I think the worst advice I get is from myself, sometimes. Those days when I feel like giving up. It's essential to fight through.

  4. Great post, Heather! My mom and sister told me that my 1st and 2nd trimester would be a breeze compared to the 3rd. So you can imagine how I was freaking out when I was sick to my stomach everyday, for the first five months. And then, when the seventh month rolled around, restless leg. Every night. (I love my son, but I don't think I'll be have any more children if I can help it, lol!)Oh, and another thing they told me–that a first baby would give me hours of false labor/real labor before he was born. Wrong! I went into labor–real labor early, and he was born within TWO HOURS.Okay. Bad book advice. Hmmm. I don't think anyone has given me bad advice. But then, I'm still on the unpublished side of the fence, so I'm still clueless about the actually process outside of writing and rewriting drafts. 😉

  5. Great post- like it, so very apt!I got tons of bad advice when I was pregnant and shortly after delivering. At first it really bothered me but I eventually began to overlook it.What does still plague me are people who ask me when I'm going to have another baby. First, it's none of their business.Second, why do people assume I need to have more than one?Third, my toddler still doesn't sleep through the night (no I don't want advice on how to get him to. I've tried it all and it doesn't work) so why would I want another one? As for writing. I'm tired of family/friends asking when it's going to get published. It's harder than it looks! I appreciate the interest, but when I have news I promise I will share it! Until then, please just pray for me 🙂

  6. GREAT thing to pray, Lisa. And Gwendolyn! Yes, it's so hard when family gives advice that freaks you out a little! But how cool that you went straight into REAL labor (I know lots of us who didn't!). And TC, I know, I think people are just curious about when/how many kids people are going to have and they don't always filter their thoughts before speaking! I always just answered them honestly and didn't take to heart any comments.Same thing w/the kids sleeping through the night. THAT is so hard. Girl, I felt like the first 5 years of my kids' lives were spent with both ME and THEM not sleeping through the night! I still don't sleep great, but that's because I'm praying about/worrying about my BOOK-baby!

  7. Heather!!!!!I'm finally getting on with my Monday and it's ONLY 11:11 (make a wish!)!Yippee! I won a copy of Joanne's book! Now when I win her door prize basket at her party I'll have a signed copy to give my mother – tee-hee. I have high expectations, I know…..GWENDOLYN – I want a two-hour delivery of my book! That. Would. Be. AWESOME!!!!BTW, I LOVE caps and !!!!!!!.Monday and on my 3rd cup of coffee…. (and I apparently love ellipses, too.)Heather, this a great post. And a great reminder of whose baby it is anyway! It's also a little like finding the right babysitter, too, huh? Someone who will treat your baby the way you want her to be treated.Advice? From Dori: Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Writing. Writing.Love you, girl,Becky

  8. I blew a disc in my spine when I was 6 weeks preggo with #3. BRUTAL pain. The worst I've ever had. Then while I was having him, the OB had to go in, yes, GOOOOO INNNNNNN and turn him. TWICE!! That baby was 4 weeks early. And took 14 hours of back labour and pushing#2 Arrived 5 weeks early. After flying down the highway in an ambulance, I got into the hospital at 12:05am, into a room at 12:15am, into the delivery room at 12:25am, and he was born at 12:35am. They had to hold the stirrups in place, because we didn't have time to wait for them to be locked into the bed post.#4 took 16 hours and was 6 weeks early and spent 12 days in the NICU. Poor little dude couldn't breathe.Oh, and #1 was a textbook case of Toxemia and I was on bedrest for a month. I couldn't even go potty alone. If my books are like this…AHHHHH!!!Worst advice? Letting hubby decide the maternity clothes budget for the first baby. HAHAHA!! We were poor, but I was a wimp. 2nd to 4th babies? I'm in charge here.

  9. I love this comparison! I've had people give advice for changing my book in certain ways that I just had to smile, say thanks, and ignore. It wasn't bad advice, it just wasn't where I wanted the story to go!

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