Posted by: Trisha Leigh | October 19, 2011

Playing Favorites

You can deny that parents have favorite children, but I’ve always thought it’s probably true. Not that they love one child more than another, but as babies grow into children grow into people, some personalities are just going to naturally click more than others.

I’m revising my third manuscript at the moment. Not the third one I ever wrote (it’s actually the seventh) but the third one I feel like is good enough to find a home somewhere other than my hard drive. That is, if I get it to shape up.

My mom used to say that to me. “Shape up or ship out.” What does that mean to a kid?

What I’m finding is that, like I imagine having children would be, each one is slightly different. The first one came easily as a first draft, and changed very little until I signed with my agent. It changed quite a bit after that, under her guidance, but that manuscript and I were in sync from the very first page.

The second has three narrators that live in vastly different worlds, so it and I struggled with structure along the way. Still, for the first time I’d written a villain I loved to hate, one I understood and empathized with, and she might still be my favorite character I’ve ever created. The revisions altered the book a lot, but I knew exactly where to take it when I sat down to start rewriting.

This current ms, which is a kind of Southern gothic historical set in 1810 New Orleans, is trying my patience like a feisty toddler that refuses to quit stuffing things in the toilet and flinging mashed up vegetables around the kitchen. It’s not that I don’t know what needs to be fleshed out, or tied up, or smoothed over. It’s that this time the changes are more subtle, mostly regarding characters and the relationships between them, and the general feeling of the book as opposed to specific plot points. I have a mini-anxiety attack every time I stare at the open .doc, but I’m guessing drinking more wine will take care of that.

I love them all, I truly do, though they are wonderfully diverse. I’m not sure I could choose a favorite. Usually I seem to prefer whichever manuscript I’m working on at that moment.

My grandfather, a man who made me feel like his favorite grandchild my entire life, had this situation figured out. I never doubted it for a moment, that our relationship was special, that he looked forward to my visits more than anyone else’s, even though he never would have said such a thing.

When he died, my cousins and I sat around talking about Grandpa, and by the end of the conversation we discovered a strange but beautiful reminder of what an important man we’d lost.

Because we all thought we were Grandpa’s favorite. Every single one of us had a special bond with him, and he’d gone out of his way to forge those ties over shared interests and years of reaching out to make us feel loved.

After all, there is something special about every child, and every story. I treasure each one, though some are certainly easier to get along with than others.

What about you? I won’t make you divulge whether or not you have a favorite human child, but what about your manuscript babies?

Image courtesy of tensionot.com

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Responses

  1. I do have human children favorites. A favorite daughter and a favorite son. (This is why I was always afraid to have a third child. *grin*)

    As for my books…well, it’s always the one I’m working on. Natural, I guess.

  2. I heart this post so, SO much. Thank you for writing it.

  3. Like Linda, I have favorite Spawn and a favorite Spawnette. 🙂 Also a favorite Dark Poodle of the Apocalypse.

    While it’s also true my favorite characters are the ones I’m working on at the moment, I know there will always be a special place in my heart for Ruby Jane.

    • I ❤ Ruby Jane, too. And Skin. But, shhh! Don't tell my characters. They get jealous.

  4. Well, I only have one child, so having a favorite is easy! 😉

    As for books…less easy. I think that, like you said, there are different things I love (and…do not love lol) about each. But each one is special to me in some way.

  5. Your blog is my favorite blog. Just don’t look at what I say on other blogs.

    This was brought to you by the person who hacked my account.


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