Monday, March 21, 2011
Urban Myths: Writing A Book Is Like Having A Baby - Kara Isaac
I have heard it said many, many, times, that writing a book is akin to having a baby. This proclamation is generally uttered with such great conviction that, in my naivety, I went along with the wisdom of those who have gone before me.
Creatively I could see the parallels. Writing a manuscript is very much a labour of love. There are the nights you lie awake, or wake up, trying to unravel a particularly obstinate scene or figure out a character who just won't do what its supposed to. Sending your manuscript or book out - be it to be judged in a contest or by the general paying public - and not getting five star rave reviews back does literally feel like someone has attacked your much loved and (you think) wonderful child. While unpublished, I can certainly imagine how holding your very first printed book after months or years of perseverance would be greeted with a awe similar to having your first born thrust into your arms after hours of labour.
Now, having crawled my way into the fourth month of pregnancy, I can only conclude that those who utter this advice sagely either (1) have enough years between now and the actual event that time has healed many many wounds, (2) you are one of those lucky women who glowed like Moses while you glided all the way from conception through to birth with great hair and flawless skin to boot or (3) your nation subscribes to a much more managed approach than the "suck it up and carry on" mantra of New Zealanders.
So here are my top five reasons for why writing a book is NOTHING like having a baby, bearing in mind that I'm assured the worst should now be behind me and that a year from now I'll probably be a fully fledged believer in the analogy again!
1) Projectile vomiting. No matter how horrible the scene, how badly written the chapter, or tedious the plot problem, not one of my manuscripts have ever had me running for the ladies' like Usain Bolt in the 100m Olympic finals.
2) The escape clause. Tired? Had enough? Been staring at the same page for three hours making minor meaningless changes? File, shut down, walk away, my friend. It's a beautiful thing. Morning sickness, in contrast, doesn't come with a ctrl-alt-delete option.
3) The "public property" assumption. Has a stranger ever walked up to you and stroked your laptop? A friend popped around and started patting down your manuscript? No? You'd probably find that odd, probably even kind of disturbing, right? And yet having a bump seems to make you a target for people who seem to be practicing their skills for a job with airport security.
4) No wine and cheese allowed. Fundamental components of any great productive post-midday writing session.
5) Ceding control. Writing a manuscript - you're in complete control (well with some exceptions if you're under contract). Heroine red hair or blonde? Hero pilot or engineer? Write today or spend it watching a Bachelor marathon? Laptop or desktop? Mac or PC? Get up at 4am to squeeze in a couple of hours or burn the midnight oil? Romance or sci-fi? First trimester? You get to control what clothes you're wearing as you bolt for the bathroom. Pretty much everything else is out of your hands.
Alright, I'm ready, convince me that there are more simularities that differences or else add some more reasons to make my argument even more convincing...