Writing Your Book Baby
My newborn was waking me up every two hours, and in the early hours of morning, from one nursing to the next, when even the sun wasn't up yet, I couldn’t sleep. I was writing.
As she got older, I wrote little snippets on my phone. A line or two from that rare intersection of baby-is-fine and inspiration-is-flowing.
I had a story that wanted to get out, and I was along for the ride. Three weeks later and I had my first book, while the notion of being an actual author was still fresh and mind-blowing.
My next book snuck up on me. As in, she was a sneaky little sucker that jumped in line. I was writing the follow-up in my somewhat inspirational and somewhat science fantasy series and got derailed, producing a comedic paranormal romance that thought it was a cozy mystery. With no pressure and letting my crazy have free reign, it was a fun detour.
The two books that followed required determination and grit, by turns coaxing each uncertain word and then threatening and forcing just to get the daily word count met. Ideas were drafted, new outlines were crafted, and readers were recruited. Once I scaled that mountain, I got so mired in editing quicksand, I wasn’t sure I’d extricate myself but I did. Then I had to wade into the big water, nearly drowning in a sea of self-promo and intimidating ad know-how. When my books went live, my joy was more the exhausted collapse and full-body exhale of a marathon winner – or a mother after a thirty hour labor.
And then came my last book baby. She was a sweetheart, patient and kind. Life walloped me and her birth was delayed time and time again. I changed the personalities of her characters, bloated her with new scenes and stripped her of others. I left her alone for months, then half a year. Through it all, she waited without pressure, without judgment.
What do I know of writing routine and ethics? Forty-odd years and I’m still trying to exercise regularly.
But I know about births, having birthed books and babies and having helped others birth their own books and their own babies. And I can tell you, every book is different. They are their own stories that have chosen you as their birthing vessel. You can fight it, you can delight in it, you can take a birthing analogy and really run with it. But you can’t stop.
Because then you’re no longer a vessel, you’re a dead-end. And those stories will find someone else to birth them, while the spark in you that came alive in you during the creative process will live in someone else.
If you want to be a writer, write. It’s the best way to hone your craft, the best way to promote your books (by writing more books), and the best way to find your satisfaction and happiness. Be it a few sentences once a day, or a 10k slog once a week, honor your calling and that story you carry, and push past the hurdles of fear and failure.
Every story will teach you something new if you let it. The key is not listening to that voice in your head that you normally do, that one with all the “should”s and “have-to”s. When you’re ready to write, just listen to the story.