We writers often call our books our “babies” and when we create them and get them out in the world we liken it to giving birth. I’ve even likened landing a publishing deal to getting pregnant when you and a friend are both vying for that goal. When one succeeds and the other has yet to do so, there is an odd mix of joy and jealousy that can only come about in situations like that.
I was driving to a writers meeting the other day and my mind wandered to the whole writing/publishing compares to pregnancy/childbirth thing again, and I realized the similarities run even further.
For example, when you first start writing it is like first finding out you are pregnant. You don’t tell anyone because you are so afraid of discovering it was a false positive. What if the “test” was wrong? What if those first few days of symptoms were imagined? What if you only think you are writing, but in truth are simply banging out nonsense on a computer keyboard?
But eventually, you start to “show.” Even if you are trying to hide your writing, people notice. Little telltale signs appear—the pen that is always in your hand scribbling in the pocket-sized notebook you’ve suddenly started carrying. You stop calling people you normally talk to all the time because you are too busy writing. Trust me—you may think you are hiding it, but others see the signs.
Soon you find yourself drawn to places where writers congregate, either in person or online, just as a pregnant woman begins to feel the need to be around other moms-to-be. You may find a local writers group, or you spend hours surfing the web in search of forums or other writerly social networks. Support from others in your situation is vital, and we are naturally pulled toward it.
Sharing your writing at those functions is a personal decision. Some writers willingly allow anyone to read their works in progress just as some women frame their sonogram pictures or carry them around in their wallets, showing anyone and everyone who asks about the baby. Others keep things quiet, not ready to share their writing, just as some women tuck their sonogram pictures away in a secret box and only look at them in private.
A pregnant woman goes to her doctor or midwife and asks experienced moms for advice on dealing with morning sickness and other symptoms, as well as recommendations for things to improve the developing baby’s health. As writers, we need that, too. We must turn to experienced writers for help and advice to make our manuscripts the best they can be, and to help us deal with this crazy experience of writing.
Then, there is the birth announcement. New moms and newly-published writers love nothing more than telling the whole world when the baby is here! We’re inundated with congratulations and are overwhelmed with excitement. However, we can also be hit with total fatigue and postpartum depression. Once the baby is born–once the book is published–a whole new and different adventure begins.
And of course, the first thing out of people’s mouths is, “So, when do you plan on having another?”
(Oh, and because I know there will be someone, somewhere, who will read this and think, “Is she trying to tell us something? Why is she thinking about pregnancy and childbirth?” Let me set your mind at ease: The only babies I’LL be birthing from now on will be made of words ;). Diaper days are over for me, folks!)