Your New Relationship

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

A new relationship takes off. Even if you’re in a relationship or marriage there is a boyfriend or girlfriend who takes you for the ride on a motorcycle. Your emotions about him or her wander through a jungle of the unknown. Then you make up with a hot session in which you cannot leave each other.

Type the first word. Your new relationship begins. The nice thing about this relationship is no one is there to argue with you, although you might sometimes feel stuck on a scene or character.

Dare I suggest your book, story or poem is a boyfriend or girlfriend when it is something more sacred to you?

Not so much me as author, Joshilyn Jackson; author of gods in Alabama, Backseat Saints, and most recently, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty.

I met Joshilyn Jackson for the second time in my young career as a writer. I adore her work for the fact the writing is excellent, she makes me laugh after a dark scene, her descriptions are amazing, and the list continues into eternity. I’ve never liked to use the term favorite author because there are so many writers I love and from whom I learn.

Jackson took a writer’s cliché of your book is your baby, and shot it in the foot. It is not without good reason.

When I first heard her speak at a writer’s conference in October 2010 and again last Tuesday, she talked about the way in which she thought of her books. The reason is important because it helped to separate the writer’s thoughts of publishing and writing. If the two worlds collide in a writer’s mind while he or she writes, it becomes a slick, messy landslide.

Think of your individual works as a boyfriend or girlfriend. While you are writing the poem, story or novel, it is hot and heavy. You end up in arguments when you do not agree with something in the plot or how a character evolves. Words, like clothes, end up on the floor. The best ones end up on the page. When the book is published, the relationship is over. Simple: done and over.

Jackson does not open her older books because she said she would see a flaw or think about something she would change. The book is already published. She has to focus on the manuscript at hand instead of what she has already released to the world. It is similar to your being in love with your significant other while thinking about someone else.

I’ve said those words: My book is my baby. When I started my research for Sons of the Edisto at the South Caroliniana Library and trips to Bamberg, SC; my manuscript was my baby. I loved it. I tried to nurture it by learning from the beginning the best way to tell the story and how I could show the 1920’s in an accurate, but a storytelling manner.

At the end of 2009, I did not touch my book for four months. I worked as a full-time reporter, and I learned I was pregnant. The moment I became a real mother, my life changed (cliché) forever. As a mother, I believed I turned into a better writer. It was in the first year of my son’s life when pieces of my work were published.

My short nonfiction story, Grass from the Grave, no longer belongs to me. It is set to be published for a second time in the spring. It is one of the only times I sat down at a keyboard, wrote something in ten minutes, and it stayed in most of its original form. It deals with circumstances surrounding my son’s birth. I never thought it would be something of interest. The fact is the story no longer belongs to me.

The relationship starts. Then it must end. No hard feelings. No broken hearts. Just “I wish you the best, and I know you’ll go far.”


One thought on “Your New Relationship

  1. I love this post! I especially like how Jackson compared writings to a boyfriend/girlfriend. I think that once I publish something, I would probably feel the same, as in, not being able to read it or go through it because of finding something. I’m sure the longer the writing career, the more true that is! I’m sure twenty years from now I’ll be looking at my writing with very different eyes.

    Congratulations on your short story being published again! As dedicated as we to creating great pieces of writing, sometimes those flash inspirations to write produce our best works. 🙂

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