I am sitting in a coffee shop, staring out at the ocean and reflecting on life and writing and the nature of things. The reason I am so far from my natural habitat is the life changing event of launching my eldest child into independence. He is hanging out on a college campus getting initiated and registered, while I am face to face with reality once again.

Once upon a time this young man did not exist. Even after he made his appearance in this world he was, for a space of time, still an extension of me: under my control, subject to my rules, knowing only the things I allowed him to be exposed to. Now, he is a fully autonomous being, about to go his own way in the big wide world. He is a creator of songs, stories, and original ideas. The world will be different because he is in it.

At fifteen, his younger brother is also an autonomous being who thinks his own thoughts and creates his own chain of events. But, like a work in progress, he is still subject to revision and polish.

In the synchronous way of things, my writing is at the same stage of life as my kids. Once upon a time, none of my books  had existence.

If you write, you know how it is. A moment of chemistry, the meeting of ideas on the right day at the right moment, and a story is born. In the beginning of a new novel things are under my control – to write, or not to write. To allow this character to live and breathe, or to shut her up. And then, somewhere in the writing, the book takes on a life of its own. It insists on certain things, refuses others. My job becomes one of listening and shaping. Sure, I could insist on full control, but this stunts the writing just as it stunts a growing child.

Swimming North is complete, and has somehow taken on a life of its own, much like my eldest child going off to college. I can sign him up and help him pay his way, but what happens from this point is entirely up to him.  The book is crafted, shaped, completed. Queries have launched it out into a larger world, to succeed or not to succeed, while I look on and try to catch my breath.

The current WIP, like my second son, still at home, has a personality and a will of its own and is no longer fully under my control. It is my responsibility to work with it – to see its strengths and weaknesses, to shape and polish and redirect and prevent it from going down paths I know lead to disaster. And when it is complete, to let it go out into the world as well.

I have no intentions of creating any more children. Books are a different story, so I guess I’d better get used to this.

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