Never imagined dedication lines could bite me on the hind side. Among the many surprising things I’ve discovered since I started writing, here’s one more: those pesky one liners are tough to handle.
Around eight years ago, when I started writing seriously enough, I thought little about them. This was the scenario then–I was going to write this one series of five books, and five very special people were going to get a line in their praise on the first page. It’s no big deal finding five people, right? I mean, everyone has five very special people in their life, right? Hold that thought for a second.
Fast forward a few years, and I have 12 SKUs out on Amazon and more to be added soon. There’s no end in sight. And suddenly, I find myself in an ocean when I had only thought of being out on a riverboat trip. So, now, guess how many special people I need? More than five. And that’s only in one year.
See the problem? My projection falls apart because the numbers are way off the expected path.
You’re a sad human being, you might think just about now. Don’t you have enough friends and family who deserve a spotlight on your pages? I mean, come on, finding five to eight people every year can’t be that difficult.
Well, it is. A dedication line, five words or thirty, is a very special thing. It is possibly one of the dearest things to a writer. The person or the moment those words refer to have to be significant. For me, they have to be a person or a moment that has inspired, supported, changed and will continue to do the same to my journey as a writer for years to come.
Those words above are underlined for a reason. Friends and friends of a writer are different. What do I mean? I’ll explain. Say I have a hundred friends, some I like to watch a movie with, some I meet over the weekend for a potluck dinner, some I hang with at the bar. Of the hundred, twenty are close. All of them have kind words to say about my writing gig, but to most of them my books are just another job or a fling/hobby/pastime. They are not wrong if they consider it just another job, it is in a way. But a writing gig is also different from most jobs. Case in point that line of dedication. Even those five or thirty words need a muse. It can’t be about any person. The guy who shares my interest in IPA, or the girl I can spend hours with chatting about my latest DSLR, although dear, wouldn’t automatically fit that spot. In those lines I seek a friend who has influenced my writing life so deeply that I’m indebted to them forever.
So, those twenty close friends? Trimmed down to two (if I’m lucky), pretty fast.
It’s also just not about numbers. Finding whom to dedicate a book to is not an easy, one-dimensional, “find and insert” task. If I had ten children, it wouldn’t automatically follow that my first ten books will have the line for each of them, in order of their birth. A dedication is more than that. There has to be a fit. Metaphorically, of course.
The first book I ever wrote, I thought of giving my parents the honor. There’s no one else who has influenced my life more than them obviously. But, it didn’t quite fit. Finally, it went out to my daughter, not simply because I love her till the end of the world and beyond, but because it was a perfect fit. A firstborn, a new journey, they story of a mother and daughter, a story about finding light needed her name on it and nothing else would have suited better.
So you see, it’s complicated.
Coming back to the issue at hand–I have run out of people who I can dedicate my books to. Last night, as I was readying a manuscript for release, I was stumped. No one came to mind. What was I going to do? I’m not worried much anymore. I have found my next stop. And that next stop–situations, memories, and the most important, my readers–has great potential as muses.