Mothering the Novel

I have been repressing this blog post, because it’s a little cheesy and may seem too far-fetched for applicability. However, I can restrain myself no longer. Being an author is like being a mom, and the book is your baby. It is.

Here’s why.

Now no disrespect to moms. They are pretty cool. I’m a mom. I have a mom. And mom’s have low street cred. No one can do what they do, because they are on 24/7, making all the sacrifices, keeping their kids on their minds in everything…

Actually, this is just entrenching my argument.

My book is my baby because…

  • I made it. I had a little help, but largely it was formed from what came from me, went through my body, and was influenced by what I did and experienced.
  • It hurt. At least sometimes. You concentrate on the joy that is before you and will yourself to relax. It’s called hope.
  • I’m not doing it alone. But lots of times I am alone. It gets lonely and intense.
  • It takes time. Lots and lots and lots of it. And by that I mean each day, and I mean over the course of your years, your life.
  • I don’t get much recognition or thanks, at least while I’m in the thick of it. Maybe never.
  • It takes over my brain so that it buzzes when I try to go to sleep, distracts me when all I’m trying to do is converse with the human in front of me. This means I consider it when I am picking out a peanut butter, but it also means I can’t always shake it off my leg when I need to.
  • Speaking of sleep, I get woken up in the middle of it to tend to something pressing, do some good work, before going back to my own, warm bed. Since I am a champion sleeper, this happens less to me than others.
  • Speaking of sleep, I end up getting less of it than intended because life AND authoring/mothering takes more than the time allotted in the day.
  • The laundry suffers. The dishes suffer. The cleaning suffers. And, in case you didn’t notice, so does my social life. Oh, I mean, my lack of social life.
  • I am frequently asked to make sacrifices that hurt in curious ways. They call this killing your darlings.
  • It’s scary as heck.
  • Part of it is putting one foot in front of the other. Part of it is being really, really, really determined and committed.
  • I expect one thing, I get another. Like every day. I want it to be a doctor, it becomes a gas station attendant.
  • I get so immersed in it, there is no hope of seeing it clearly.
  • I do my best but EVERY DAY I have a crisis wondering if its good enough. Therefore, I learn how to accept it on its own terms, as less-than-perfect.

One of my First Readers said to me, “What a labor of love!” The more I thought about it, the more I felt writing and publishing is, for me, a labor of compulsion and pleasure. Housekeeping and raising kids is the labor of love. But perhaps I am wrong. Maybe writing, too, is a labor of love. Love, after all, is commitment. And that’s what gets writers from point A to point B. Sure we all have some amount of aptitude and unique combination of talents, but what sets us apart as authors (especially those working through physical, social, economic, emotional or mental restrictions, and even parenting (and especially mothering)), is commitment.

I do, I do love my book. Perhaps it’s like a marriage? I feel another blog entry coming…

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