Why Writing a Novel is Like Having a Baby

Why Writing a Novel is Like Having a Baby
I had a boss once who liked to say “nine pregnant women couldn’t grow a baby in just one month.”  And after having just finished my first book, I can guarantee that nine writers couldn’t write a novel in just one month.    

I have three beautiful, healthy children and I had three long, exhausting pregnancies and I can honestly say that when I did my final pass of my book and decided it was ready, it felt much the same as I did bringing each of my children home from the hospital, ready to meet the world.   

When I started this project, I did my research.  I met with writers who told me that me I’d probably write ten times what I’d end up using during the creative process.  I nodded and smiled.  In my head I thought I’d be different.  I had a secret – I had a plan.  I’ve done things way harder than this, I thought.  I’ve helped build companies.  I write in business every day! 

But they were right.  Despite my maniacally detailed outline that I started with, my book took on a life of its own.  Characters formed as I wrote, as if they came alive themselves as I put the words on the page.  I, the quintessential planner, thought I knew how the story was going to end, until I started writing the ending.  Then it seemed all wrong. 

One important thing I’ve learned by being a parent is that sometimes kids come hard wired with personalities – the old nature vs. nurture argument.   Writing the words were my responsibility.  Making sure that there was a clear and interesting voice was all me.  But the story and the twists and turns it took felt much like meeting each of my children for the first time.  No matter how well I think I know them, they can always surprise me.    

Throughout this two year process, I’ve had to find it within myself to make the time.  I pushed through writer’s block.  My book is why I’ve skipped workouts, why my husband so often took the kids to the science centre on Saturday mornings without me.  It’s why you might have seen me sitting alone in the corner at Starbucks in the evenings and why no, I’d rather you didn’t sit with me and chat.

Well, the pregnancy’s over.  The book is “done”.  Now I just have to make sure it gets into the right schools and makes the right friends, and becomes what it wants to be when it grows up.  Let the parenting begin.

6 thoughts on “Why Writing a Novel is Like Having a Baby”

  1. I hope your new baby doesn’t grow up to change its name and tell all its friends that the emotional baggage is all your fault… cause that would be weird. Congrats! They say it takes a village to raize a book… or was it raise?

  2. Just read the story about your journey toward your new book. I truly enjoyed that, so I have no doubt that reading your book will be a pleasure as well,
    Congratulations! I wish you much success on this next phase of development. xo Sue

  3. Congrats!! Much success with your book. I too got my book accepted by a publishing house…excited for it to come out late this year. Thank you for following. Glad to make your acquaintance!

  4. I love this metaphor of the book getting to “grow up” — I think when writers think of their book as their “baby” being torn to shreds by heartless critics have either missed that crucial developmental stage (editing/publishing process = adolescence for the book) and the final stamp of approval from the author (publishing/launch = graduation/coming out party)… or they still think their role is to defend their offspring as if it can’t do it on its own merits. It’s hard to read reviews that are less than glowing — but how much harder is it on the author when you are still rewriting, not sure whether anything is working? That awkward book-adolescence seems worse to me than any negative review, but it’s something every novel must go through.

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