It dawned on me the other day that writing is very similar to raising children. Bear with me on this, it may sound crazy, but there are parallels.
I guess it goes without saying that I'm a mother - a bit obvious I guess and a bloody tired one at that. I'm not your 'Earth-woman' type. I hated NCT classes and physically recoiled if anyone pushed a childcare manual my way, but somehow, god knows how, I managed to raise two, slightly quirky but still very beautiful-to-me children.
One of my bundles of joy...
I guess my writing is quite similar. I wasn't particularly academic (never had the concentration), I hated reading any 'how-to' manuals, but somehow, god knows how, I managed to produce a book.
And the coincidences do not end there. I noted the following:
- I fell pregnant the first time and it was a bright and exciting moment (this was long before the morning sickness and other uglies kicked in). You are full of hope and wonder. The world seems a bright and exciting place. You start writing an idea down, it's the same - bright and exciting. You can't stop thinking about it. It's alive and growing. Everything is good.
- In pregnancy you think of names. You toil with the absurd and the traditional. Something might grab you and stick. In the early stages of writing, you might gift your book with a title. For me It has to have one. I can't physically write without it. And it has to be right. This has caused me serious neurosis.
- In both pregnancy and writing you grow. Pregnancy is pretty obvious, especially with my cravings for deep fried chicken and waffles. In writing, if you're like me, you'll eat constantly - grazing like a demented sheep. Crumbs will litter your keyboard like scabby snow. I know this because my bum has slowly expanded to the size of a cow.
- Then birth, the agonising labour. Sweating and cursing to get that baby free from you.Not so dissimilar to the sweating and cursing at the last stages of the first draft. You start shouting at people (my husband in both cases) and you wonder why the hell you bothered in the first place.
- Then relief. Love. A feeling of satisfaction - achievement perhaps?
- That's until the sleepless nights kick in. After childbirth, the baby whines and moans. After drafts, it's me whining and moaning as I wait for feedback. I rethink sentences at night, torturing myself, wondering if I did enough.
- A slow sense of worry claws at you. You wonder if you're actually any good at this, as you plaster the nappy on backwards (yes, I did do that...). Or re-read your book and hate EVERY SINGLE WORD.
- You look at other writers/mothers. Why do they seem so 'together'. Why are their babies perfect and behave like they should. How do they manage to write so beautifully. Why can't your writing be like that?
- The baby is growing, the baby smiles and you feel good again. As you edit, your book is becoming stronger. You re-read a bit you love and feel good again.
- Someone tells you how beautiful/well behaved your baby is and you glow. A blogger/reader tells you how wonderful your book is and you glow.
- You look at the finished product with a sense of pride. You want to tell the world about it.This is what you wanted. This is what you must always remind yourself.
I guess the most important thing of all is that either in writing, or in children - or perhaps both, we have left some kind of legacy. Some sort of stick in the ground.
Although as I watch my little boy trying to walk backwards with a cat basket on his head....this could be a very wobbly stick indeed.