My long-time friend and I went canoeing and swimming with our kids today. The ten-year-old girls immediately ran for the beach, swam the entire time, and never put one toe in the canoe. The two teenagers, a him and her, swung the heavy canoe off the car and confidently carried it to the lake. How the heck did this happen? These two kids I once held on my lap while they shared goldfish crackers? After a dutiful swim, they preferred to sit on the beach–forget romping in the water–and talk.
There’s a fiction phrase–a willing suspension of disbelief–which, the further along in parenting, the more that seems a truism for life. I expect to be in the teen years for a good long while yet, and I could say it’s interesting, but, in fact, it’s darn mesmerizing… among a few other adjectives, too. But when these teens were ten-years-old themselves, I could never have believed they would become so full as people, so funny, so wry, and with legs sprawled everywhere. Here I am, I thought, in that perpetual rough draft of my life, garnering more material.
What you are aiming for (in writing a novel) is willing suspension of disbelief, and the first person who must suspend disbelief is yourself. Some beginning novelists have more disbelief than others, but even if your burden of disbelief is heavy, the only way to suspend it is to keep adding sentences to the ones you have already written.
–– Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
…. Or, I take this to mean, in other words, keep on trekking: parenting and writing.