Books and Babies: Labors of Love by Michael Larsen

Enjoy this guest post by Michael Larsen, literary agent and founder of the San Francisco Writers Conference, happening Feb. 2013. More details at the bottom of this post.


The Yankee sage Yogi Berra once said that “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” At the end of the nineteenth century, people believed that New York could never grow to a million people, because there wouldn’t be room to stall the horses. This was shortly before the arrival of the subway. This is an example of straight-line thinking, assuming the future will be an extension of the present. Experts predicted that by 2050, the earth’s population would explode to 9 billion people. But around the world birth rates are dropping. Now the challenge is to have enough children to sustain a country.

But the right to bear children the world needs brings the responsibility to be models for them. Without models, children will become burdens to themselves, the people in their lives, and to society. The love, patience, compassion, knowledge, generosity, conscientiousness, selflessness, skills,  sacrifice, pride, forbearance, discipline, determination, resourcefulness, creativity, courage, understanding, sense of humor, and spiritual beliefs needed to be a parent and a model make it life’s hardest personal challenge. (Unmentioned is the $250,000 it takes to raise a child to the age of seventeen.)

But from the moment of conception, parenting, like writing, has to be a labor of love. Parenting requires spending two decades transforming a human being from being totally dependent into being capable of living and thinking independently. It’s a perpetual push-and-pull effect. You are pushing them to be independent while pulling them back from challenges they’re not ready for. Loving households, regardless of parents’ sexual needs are a blessing, but parenting requires yin and yang, a man and a woman, as models on which children can base and balance their identities.

The result of parents’ handiwork should be someone who

  • Has the values and virtues with which they were raised
  • Has a mature ethical, emotional, and intellectual response to any situation
  • Will attract a mate with the same strengths and vision of life, and the desire to be a parent
  • Accepts ambiguity and uncertainty, but is a life-long learner with the potential to be a life-long earner in a rapidly changing economy
  • Balances service and self-interest, and personal and professional obligations
  • Fulfills the role of citizen and serves the community

Parents who bring up children like this create a priceless legacy that will help sustain the country. Nothing is more important for our future than their gifts of love.

Your book is your baby, but it will be born twice: It may take you nine months to write it and your publisher nine months to publish it. I hope that, however long it takes, your book will become a source of pride, passion, and profit. But you have to decide the best way to bring it into the world and how to achieve your literary and financial goals for it.

A frustrated write once said: “After receiving a few rejections, I gave up and decided to write for posterity.” Once you decide why you’re writing, you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals. Kahlil Gibran wrote that “Work is love made visible.” The most likely way for your book to become a source of income is if it’s a labor of love for your craft and your readers. If it is, it will succeed.


About Michael Larsen

Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents / Helping Writers Launch Careers Since 1972 / / 415-673-0939 /1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109

The 10th San Francisco Writers Conference / A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community

February 14-17, 2013 / / / Mike’s blog: @SFWC /

The San Francisco Writing for Change Conference / Changing the World One Book at a Time

September , 2013 / /

San Francisco Writers University / Where Writers Meet and You Learn / Laurie McLean, Dean / free classes / / / @SFWritersU


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