Today author Ann Tatlock shares her all-too-familiar description of the evolution of a novel. I hope you enjoy this peek inside the not-so-happily-ever-after relationship of authors and their novels!
Meeting – I'm not even looking for him. But out of nowhere, there he is. At the very moment our eyes meet we know we are meant for each other. He is The Perfect Idea! I'm in love!
Courting – He is the most fascinating man I've ever known. Not like the others. No, not at all like so many others who have let me down. As I get to know him—researching everything about him--I grow to love him even more. He will be the ideal husband. Everyone will think so.
Marriage – We sign the contract and it's official. We are legally wed! I'm looking forward to the happily-ever-after.
Married life – The honeymoon is exciting, exhilarating! And then, all too soon, we fall into the day-to-day routine of filling in the pages of our life together. Then I begin to see his faults. He refuses to do what I ask him to do. He breaks his promises. He changes his mind. We begin to quarrel. We have shouting matches. I am thoroughly disillusioned! I—normally a peaceable and gentle soul—begin to entertain murderous thoughts.
Marriage counseling – Off he goes to the psychologist. Maybe as a professional editor she can clean up his faults and turn him into a decent human being.
Attempt at reconciliation – We must both work hard at it, she says. I will make all the changes she requires for reconciliation. I can't speak for him, but I'll do my part.
Assessment – She says he's wonderful now! So much improved! Such a good, intriguing, memorable fellow! Yes, but I know better.
Divorce proceedings – He comes back to me all dressed up in his best suit and tie. Looking sharp on the outside, now that he's in galley form. Oh, I want to love him! I will give him one more chance. But it's no use. He turns my stomach. Embarrasses me. What a weakling. I continue to see all his faults. I don't think he tried very hard to change. How different he is from what he appeared to be at our first meeting. Charlatan!
Divorce – I put him in the Fed Ex envelope and kick him out the door! Don't come back! I never want to see you again!
Shared Custody – But alas, we have children. They are called readers. And to my surprise, some of them like him. Of course, I must say nice things about him, never putting him down in front of the children. It wouldn't be fair if I did. So I bite my tongue and don't tell them what a scoundrel he is. I don't tell them how he has disappointed me. And of course not a word about the abuse, how he tormented me day and night until I finally said "Enough!"
He gets on with his life without me – What's this? Even some of the meanest people in the world—the professional critics—like him? Are saying nice things about him? Think he's actually a good guy? Yeah, well, they don't know him like I do. Go ahead, then, let them fawn all over you. Accept that award and those accolades, as though you deserve them! Just don't forget, I know better. I know who you might have been and who you really are and how far short you fall from the one who came to me as The Perfect Idea.
Truce - All right, I'm willing to concede that maybe you have some level of merit. After all, nobody's completely bad. I can see you've done something good for somebody. And yes, there must have been a reason I fell in love with you in the first place, other than the fact that I'm a total fool.
A fresh start - But, whoever you are and whatever you do, it no longer matters to me because….I'm already in love with somebody else! He is in fact The Perfect Idea! I'm certain this time. Without question, he is the one. He is going to be the love of my life….