Saturday night, I once again rocked my coolness at Borders. (Don't be jealous; my exciting life is not for everyone.) My favorite Barista was working, as she typically lands herself the Saturday night shift. She's a genuine soul whose become a true friend. She's also an aspiring writer herself. Our recent conversation went something like this:
Awesome Barista: You will get there. Are you having departure issues? Are you afraid to let it go?
Me: Are you kidding? It's like I'm ten months pregnant! Get. It. OUT!!
She chuckled, and I must admit, I was a bit impressed by the analogy I created. As a teacher, I worked with enough pregnant women to hear what those final days feel like. Like them, I too have grown tired, cranky, and irritable. I long for a good meal and a decent night's sleep. I'm uncomfortable; tired of lugging this excess weight in my brain. I'm so ready to give birth.
Our conversation ended and I decided to further procrastinate by scoping out my Twitter timeline and reading what the rest of the writing community was up to. During my entertaining conversation with D.L. King, she asked how things were going and I once again replied with my ten months pregnant analogy. Hey, she hadn't heard it yet.
Her reaction was favorable. She knew exactly what I meant - because writing a book is like having a baby. And as far as I'm concerned, my current status is like being in the tenth month.
How so? Let's take a look:
1. The Foreplay. You're hot for an idea. Passion ignites; it's the only thing on your mind. You dismiss any thoughts of logic and reason, and ultimately, decide to go for it. You throw yourself at the computer, ignoring all potential consequences your parents warned you about. You want it; that's all that matters.
2. The 'Deed'. Your fingers caress the keyboard. You like the way it feels. Words appear faster and faster, stimulating your mind in ways you never imagined. You like it. You like it a lot. Sentences turn into paragraphs; paragraphs into pages. You continue typing - raw, uncensored, and unprotected. Now you are in a moment; there is no turning back.
3. You're 'Late'. It's been days since you left the house. You've neglected your family and friends, failed to return phone calls, and been slacking at your job. You called out twice because you suddenly weren't feeling well. Focus is no longer in your vocabulary, at least not in the context it used to be. Tension arrives. Panic sets in. Am I....? Could I be.....? Holy Crap! "Honey!!! I think I'm writing a book!!!!!!!!!"
4. The Test. You have to be sure. Using sunglasses and a hat of some sort, you conceal your identity. God forbid anyone were to recognize you. With your laptop concealed beneath your coat, you discretely enter the local coffee shop and begin testing ideas. In a matter of minutes, the screen turns positive, and confirms what you knew in your heart to be true - you're writing a book. You respond one of two ways:
- Damn! How could I let this happen?! I'm married; I have kids! I have a JOB! I don't have time for this. Man; they warned me this could happen. Why didn't I listen?!
- This is AWESOME! The timing is perfect!! I'm single, I'm unemployed - this is just what I need to get my life back on track!!! WAHOO!!!
5. The Second Opinion. These tests are often inaccurate, so you visit your doctor for a second opinion. He asks your symptoms. You list insomnia, lack of exercise and physical activity, and poor eating habits. You mention you've been hearing voices and that the boundaries of reality appear more and more blurry. You've begun losing yourself in the process. Your doctor smiles. "Congratulations! You're writing!!" He prescribes lots of caffeine and suggests alcohol as a way of staying sane.
6. The Nine Months. The protagonist takes over; your baby owns you. You sleep when its tired; you eat when its hungry. When you're not writing, you're thinking about writing. You fight with your character; you both want to be the boss, but we all know who calls the shots. Post-it notes wallpaper the rooms of your house. Notebooks are everywhere - under your pillow, in you car, next to the toilet. You can't leave the house without a recording device. Inspiration comes from many venues - observation, music, television. Sometimes, it doesn't come at all. For months, you fight the charm of social networking. Eventually, you lose. And eventually, you realize the whole 'nine months' thing is a crock. It takes significantly longer. The further you get, the more impatient you become. Exhaustion claims your soul; you want this thing out of you!
7. The Water Breaks. You type the final period in the first draft, and for a second, feel a sense of relief. It's finally on its way.
8. The Labor. It's also known as revising. And it's excruciatingly painful - perhaps the worst agony your brain will ever feel. It's long, tiring, and there is a great deal of pushing. In a moment of weakness, you vow never to touch another keyboard again. The others in the room laugh, since everyone says the same thing..
9. The Birth. Your own flesh and blood comes out of the printer. Many play a role in cleaning it off, polishing it up, and getting it ready for the world.
10. The First Holding. It's the most beautiful creation you've seen. A tear falls from your eye as you look down at the cover page for the first time. It's the strongest connection you've felt; the tightest bond you've experienced. You vow to protect your manuscript; to never stop querying until it finds a home - the home you feel it truly deserves. You will comfort it through rejection and teach it to persevere. You may need to sculpt and adjust along the way, but that's okay. Whatever it takes; you want what is best for your book. This is your baby; your very own creation that entered this world from your own blood, sweat, and tears. You love it, you believe in it, and you will fight for it for the rest of your life - even if nobody else does.
And that, my friends, is the true miracle of birth.