They say that nothing compares to having children. The pain! The ecstasy! The sense of responsibility, anticipation and complete and utter delusion that goes with expecting your first bundle of joy, carrying it, birthing it and living the life of a mum. Well I’ve recently discovered that actually there IS something that compares to having children.
Writing a book.
So here are ten ways that writing a book is EXACTLY the same as having a child…
1. The daydreaming.
‘I’m going to write a book! It’s going to change my life. Things will never be the same again. Life is so wonderful!’
That’s what delusional optimism looks like, you get this when you look in a pram at a cute newborn wearing a frilly bonnet and you think you know what having a baby will be like. You don’t.
2. The preparation.
‘So…in order to write a book I need a million How To Write A Book books, pens in every colour, highlighters, an old school typewriter for that retro feel, post it notes – three colours. Notebooks! Ooooh notebooks, so many pretty notebooks. And a laptop, a NEW laptop, and of course I will need an ironic mug with something written on it like ‘I get paid to kill people off’ – and a desk! I can’t write a book sitting on the couch, I need a quiet corner with pot plants and a swivel chair and a pen holder. And a cat! Oh my god, I can’t be a writer without a cat. Darling, can we go to the cat rescue place today?’
What you really need is a laptop, a pen and some paper (plus skill, talent ,determination, patience, resilience, experience, determination and a bloody thick skin…but Paperchase don’t sell them).
3. The tedium.
‘For the love of God, how long is this going to TAKE?’ you mumble every single day as you bang away at the keyboard, pounding your way through word after word wondering if it’s even going right. You have no idea. Will it come out OK? You’re doing everything they tell you to do in the How To books (and you have plenty of them), but you don’t know. You just don’t know! Your emotions are a jumble of extremes – elation, despair, hope, anguish, and all you want to do is cry and eat chocolate and get to the end of this ordeal so that you can finally hold your little darling in your arms. This lasts for at least 6 months.
4. The pain.
Much like contractions, the beginning of the writing process seems more than manageable. But as you reach the end of your novel you find yourself shouting and crying and wanting to strangle everyone in the room, while screaming ‘I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this anymore. It huuuuurts!’
5. The pride.
Look at what you have produced. Just look at it! It’s so pretty and perfect and it has all the right words in the right places. So shiny and new. It’s so small yet such a huge part of your life already. You’re holding it, you’re actually holding your dream in your hands. You’re so clever!
6. The judgement.
It’s out there. Your baby is out there. People are reading it, seeing what you created, watching how you act now you’re a ‘published author’. Will they like it? Will they think of you differently? Will you have disappointed them? Will they love it and share pictures of the book with their friends? Or are they going to lie to your face, say it’s wonderful, then tell everyone what an ugly little thing you have created.
OMG what have you done?! You have no idea what you are doing; everyone will know you’re making this up as you go along. You’re not a natural writer. You need to give up right now. You will fail. F-A-I-L!!!! Retreat, retreat…except you can’t. It’s too late.
8. The daily struggle.
So this is it now, you’re official an author. You no longer have to worry about make-up, high heels or talking to people. You may not even leave the house again. Ever. And you kind of don’t care – it’s just you and your little baby in your tiny safe world. You don’t sleep and you’re living off sugar and caffeine…but it’s worth it.
9. The sense of achievement.
‘I did it!’ you want to shout from the rooftops. Although you don’t have any money, your evenings are no longer your own and you’ll never have the big bucks career you dreamed of (not unless you go without writing for a while, which is impossible to think of right now) – you’re happy. Many people want to be a writer but can’t – yet you did it, you actually did it. No, you may not be perfect at it, and yes…the book has its flaws…but you’re doing your best. That little cute printed bundle of pages is all yours and only exists because of you and your hard work. Well done!
10. The delusion.
‘Writing a book was so much fun! I can’t wait to do it again. I may even go for THREE…’
If you’re a writer and mum too then share this with all the women you know and warn them of what’s ahead. Actually, don’t. Let them dream the dream, that’s the best part – and the fact that you wouldn’t change motherhood or your writing life for the world.
Except cats. I’d seriously swap both my kids and books for a house full of cats