How Writing Is Like Motherhood

Well, you didn’t expect me to be able to focus 100% on writing just yet, did you?!

 

You go through all that effort and sleep-deprivation and stress for months on end and then out it pops – your newest baby: a draft novel. You instantly love it. You are instantly in awe of it. And even, there’s a little part of you that (frighteningly, shamefully) instantly hates it. It has taken so much from you, and it will continue to do so for so long, and yet it’s in no position to give you any reward yet for your effort or your love.

And the hard work has only just begun, because now you have to take this delicate thing, which is both perfect and imperfect, and turn it into a valuable member of society. You know that’s going to take a lot longer than the original gestation, and probably be harder work, with many more sleepless nights, tears and tantrums.

It’s not just your own reaction you’re dealing with. There are the other people – the family and friends who love it because it’s yours; who seem to have more time and patience for its flaws than you do; and who all have their own ideas about how to handle it now. Giving “advice” isn’t limited to family and friends either, and however well-meant it is, all that advice feels like criticism of your precious baby, and / or of you. You know in your mind that these people are trying to help, but your heart hears “you are a bad writer”, “you are doing it wrong” and “you will ruin your baby and keep it from fulfilling its true potential”. There are moments when you want to throw in the whole project, and many more moments when you want to bop your “advisers” on the nose.

Hopefully, though, you will do neither. Because a draft novel is like a new-born baby: it’s the closest you can get to a blank slate, a chance to get things right, and to lavish unconditional love on something of your own making. Whether it becomes a best-seller, a small-seller, or simply sits shyly on your bookshelf, it is your creation, and with love, hard work and – yes – a few sleepless nights, it can be everything it was destined to be and your pride and joy for the rest of your life.

Go on now, edit that draft!

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