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.