Whenever I do a book talk someone inevitably asks which of the books that I’ve written is my favorite. I always respond that it’s like asking which of my children or grandchildren is my favorite. Impossible to say.
This past fall, it so happened that the fifth novel in my Rochester series for kids was released in the same month that my fifth grandchild was born, and I couldn’t help but make a comparison. I’m certainly not the first person to compare writing a book to having a baby. It’s an easy metaphor. I also couldn’t help comparing the fifth grandchild/book to the first grandchild/book.
When Kristen was in labor with our first grandchild, my husband and I camped out at the hospital while drinking too many cups of bad coffee. This last time I was soundly sleeping in bed (and watching the older kids) when Kristen called to say that Jack had arrived, except that Jack was actually Nora. I took my time getting to the hospital, and although I was thrilled to hold Nora in my arms, I wasn’t on emotional overload like the first time.
Likewise for the books. I can remember sitting at my computer with tears running down my face when the publisher sent me a picture of the front cover of my first book. Seeing that cover was when the book became real to me. I was happy when I got the cover for my fifth book, but I didn’t cry.
First babies come with a flurry of excitement and activity. There are so many details to address: cradle or crib, bottle or breast, swaddling or not, pacifier or not? First books come with their own activities and excitement: adequate website, book signing sites, special pen, school visits?
By the time the fifth baby/book comes along most of those questions have been addressed. New baby/book slides into the family/shelf with a minimum amount of trouble. The difference between creation and adaptation.
First babies/books cause a stir in the community too. Gifts and best wishes are rained down by relatives, friends, and even strangers. A publication party for a first book is like Christmas and birthday all rolled into one. Fifth babies/books are still given best wishes, but it’s more like a party without the noisemakers.
Keep in mind that I’m only talking about degrees of joy. All grandbabies and all published books are something to rejoice over. I’ve been blessed to have five of each.