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How Writing a Book is Like Pregnancy

August is a big birthday month for my family. We celebrate three of my children's birthdays. I've already made a snake cake for my six year old (yes, that's my bumbling attempt in the picture!). And now I only have two more creations to go. Pray for my sanity--frosting cakes is not my favorite past time.

At each birthday celebration, we pull the honored child's baby book off the shelf, snuggle together on the couch, and look back at all of the adorable snap shots from when they were babies. My daughters and I simultaneously squeal "Awww, how cute" at every turn of the page. And my sons grunt and poke fun at each other for looking so dorky.

Lingering over the pictures brings back so many memories, especially memories of carrying each of my babies in my womb. Pregnancy was never an easy feat for me. In fact, it was downright difficult. Not only did I experience nausea and fatigue during my first trimesters, but I also dealt with the constant worry of miscarriage (I had three) as well as premature labor (my twins were born at 31 weeks).

When I think of pregnancy and the many months we wait for a baby to arrive, I can't help comparing it to the writing process. Our stories are conceived deep inside of us. As they begin to form into something alive and wonderful, we're filled with awe at the new life.

When the tiny cells of the story get bigger, we realize the book is taking more time and energy than we expected. We may drop into bed at night, our brains fatigued beyond creative capacity, our eyes blurry, our heads whirling.

And yet we gaze lovingly at our ever-expanding word counts, anticipating each spurt of growth, excited about what is taking shape. Some days our emotions are especially high and we're positive we're producing the best story ever written. And then there are times when each new sentence makes us cry out in frustration and despair.

With every passing day, our anticipation grows. We begin to imagine what life will be like once our babies are finally birthed and we become published authors. We dream big, make plans for our future success, and know that our lives will change for the better once we cross the threshold into authorhood.

Finally, our books near completion. The last chapters of the novel bring us discomfort and pain as we struggle to finish our stories with logical and satisfying conclusions. And yet no amount of heartburn or indigestion can take away from our excitement. Those babies we've nurtured for months and months are nearly ready to be thrust into the world.

Then we're awakened to sharp, painful contractions and suddenly we remember we must go through labor. . . incredibly painful labor! Join in on Wednesday as we discuss how finding an agent/editor is like labor.

For today, however, let's remember to savor the precious time with have with those developing babies. Each growing word, each phase of the creation of our books is truly a moment of wonder. Often we can get so focused on completing our books or finishing the editing, that we lose out on the joy and beauty of writing.

Do you allow yourself to cherish the writing phase of your book? Or do you find that too often you focus on the harships of the present or worries of the future?

39 comments:

  1. Writing a novel can take so much longer than a pregnancy though! LOL Thank goodness I never had to be pregnant for 11 months. I'd have gone insane :)

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  2. I love this post :) I am trying to remember to enjoy the growing and expanding and not just whine about the backaches and sore feet...well, you get what I mean :)

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  3. LOL YOur title made me laugh. I had an idea of where this was going.
    I'm sorry to hear about your miscarriages. :-(
    But glad you got your healthy babies! My kids like to look through their little albums too. It's so fun. And they really like watching their babie movies.
    That cake is amazing! Wow! I wouldn't even know how to do that. I love frosting though. Yum!
    What a cool mommy you are. :-)

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  4. Yes, maybe an elephants pregnancy, isn't that muuuuch longer? Anyway, I agree with the whole 'enjoy the journey' concept. I'm learning that there are no epidurals to shield the delivery at the end (hahahaha)

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  5. Great cake, great post.

    Ummm, I loved being pregnant, even though I had morning sickness. My labors were very short. I know this will seem totally screwy, but writing is harder.

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  6. I love your snake cake! You are such a great mommy!!

    I think I enjoy the writing phase, and I'm even getting to enjoy the editing phase as I discover how much it improves the story and the writing. We writers are truly blessed!!

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  7. Jody: the cake is marvelous! Did you invent it yourself? That snakey shape is not easy, but glad it's only a cake snake...

    I love your analogy. Right now I'm in the growing in the womb stage, and one incidence of false labor has already happened. But I always liked being pregnant, so the journey is exciting.

    I look forward to viewing albums of my "babies" after they are published!

    You're a fantastic mommmy!

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  8. Jody, Great post ad I understand why writers feel like a book is their baby. However, as a guy, for me to make any comparison to anything I do as similar to a pregnancy would invite nothing but "you have no idea what you're talking about" from the female gender.

    It's something guys learn from an early age "not to say."

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  9. Jody, I can just imagine your family snuggled together on the couch looking at pictures and smiling. How lovely!
    For me, the writing process is hard,but joyful. I felt ill my entire pregnancy, so I can't say it was joyful. But I did feel as if I'd given birth to a "baby" when my book was published.
    Karen

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  10. You nailed it! I loved my pregnancies! Loved them and I adore writing my books. I miss being pregnant just like I miss my characters when I am done writing them. I loved this post because the connection for me is strong.

    I also am excited for the next post.
    ~ Wendy

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  11. GREAT analogy. Like being pregnant, I cherish every moment that I'm able to write. However, I'm sure I'll get to a point where "I just want to get this baby out!", most likely when I'm going through the editing process. :)

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  12. That cake looks fabo!

    I'm finding that a lot of the stages of publishing can be compared to pregnancy...it doesn't end with the writing. The submission process, as well as the post-contract/pre-release stage feels a lot like waiting for the baby to be born. I wrote a guest post on Seekerville in July (I think) about this subject. What to expect when you're expecting. :)

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  13. Great analogy. Hmm. I'd add having the process stretch me beyond my comfort zone. And the awe that this amazing, yet messy, creation came from within me.

    I fondly remember sitting on the couch with swollen ankles propped up and watching my belly roll and jump. I liked that part of the process much better than my very difficult and unusual deliveries.

    I also enjoy the writing phase early on. But, the closer I get to the end, the more I start to worry that something will go wrong or wonder if I'll be a good parent or ...

    Add the countdown to D-day. I am SO ready for this part to be done.

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  14. Wow, what a beautiful post! Awesome cake as well. I bake my kids b-day cakes as well so I can comiserate on the amount of time and effort that goes into one of those yummy treats! I loved the analogy of writing and children. You said it perfectly. Now...if only the world would love my babies... ;)

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  15. Jody, the cake is great, especially considering that cake making and decorating isn't your thing. It is a slithering labor of love, in that case. As for your question, I have not always appreciated the journey for what it is, but with my latest work, because it came from such a personal place, I really was able to grasp that. There were even points when I thought I might be okay with it not being published, because the work within me that needed to happen already had been accomplished. I'd been transformed by writing it. However, when I picked it up to revise recently, it was clear to me that my baby wasn't meant to grow inside me all these months only to fade away. Just like my five babies that made it out of the womb (I experienced miscarriage too), this work is one that was meant to be born, and I look forward to the day I will present it to the world. :)

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  16. I loved the cake. I'm actually quite impressed! This is a great post. My favorite part of this whole writing process is the writing itself, so yes, I enjoy every step of the way.

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  17. Lol, I think writing a book is easier than pregnancy. But that's just my opinion. Many of the same feelings are there, though.

    I love writing, especially when I get in the second half of the book. At that point it's a challenge for me to stop. I get so caught up in the story and the characters that I want to stay as close to them as possible.

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  18. i'm with marybeth...novel writing can definitely take longer than 9 months! but even then, the analogy doesn't break down. it's a great one! reminds me of jessica's post about how being unpubbed is like being single. :)

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  19. Beautifully put! I've found, every time I'm writing a book, about halfway through I get restless to finish it and start on the next book. I get these great ideas and want to start something new. It drives me crazy! I need to learn to slow down and relax and enjoy the present process.

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  20. Jody, the cake is adorable. I hope your son had a wonderful celebration of his special day. Can't wait to see what you come up with for your other two August birthday boys/girls.

    Writing has been easier than my pregnancy and delivery. I had morning/noon/night sickness for nine and a half months. My DD was so comfy where she was, I was twelve days overdue before the delivery finally took place. Even then, she still wasn't ready to leave and was born by emergency C-section when she went stressed.

    There are days when doubts and discouragement rear their ugly heads and I experience feelings reminiscent of my PG days though. I do my best to remind myself that, just like the queasiness, backaches and fatigue of pregnancy, the feelings will pass.

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  21. That is an awesome analogy! Looking forward to the Labor post.

    Cute cake too!

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  22. What a great writing analogy! And I can definitely identify with pregnancies! (I had two miscarriages, btw, so I know what that's like too.)

    Your snake cake is incredible! I'm so impressed. (And jealous!)

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  23. You're a great mommy and you write beautifully. Take a bow. :)

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  24. Your cake is so cute. I'm sure your son loved it. Great idea about the baby books and pictures on birthdays. I hadn't thought of that.
    When writing, there are days when what comes out so surprises me that there is total joy. That happens about one fourth of the time. The rest, I wonder what I'm doing.

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  25. Great analogy and good reminder to appreciate every moment in the process.

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  26. Great analogy, Jody! I had easy pregnancies (except for two miscarriages) but harder deliveries (three C-sections) so I'm not sure how far I can take the comparisons. But, like my pregnancies, my writing is a comfortable thing... a doing-what-I'm-meant-to-be-doing thing. I thoroughly enjoy the writing, revision and editing processes to the point of sometimes holding back on trying to get my babies out into the world.

    Carol Garvin

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  27. I am blessed in that I am not a worrier. I truly enjoy writing. I don't think about agents, publishers, marketing... none of that when I'm writing. There is a time for that later. To everything there is a season...

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  28. Awesome analogy! I seem to have indigestion and excessive weight gain from eating junk while writing my books, just like I did when pregnant. Very funny!

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  29. Hi Jody -

    I enjoyed your post. Since I've never had a child, the experience is reversed for me. I'm writing this book and thinking, "so this is what pregnancy is like."

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  30. I enjoy the writing phase of the book most now that I'm doing the end part--sort of like the sitting up all night when the baby won't sleep.
    Once again, you amaze me with your attitude and what you've done with all you've gone through:)

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  31. Love this analogy, because I definitely feel as if my three books are my babies! I can't wait to read about finding an agent/editor and how it's like birth. Too bad finding an agent couldn't be as fast for me as my actual labor. Two hours in the hospital and out came Brogan!

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  32. Nice job on the cake, Jody! It looks delicious! :)

    As for the pregnancy, I guess I know what to expect now -- it'll just be another ten years or so before I know exactly what you mean.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  33. How precious!! I absolutely love the crown. :) I love birthdays and the celebration of life. Two days ago I held a newborn and thought how like life the writing journey is. I loved the feel of the baby and protectiveness I felt. It is so like how I feel over my book. Life sure makes for great analogies, doesn't it?

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  34. I hadn't thought about it until I read your question, but I am quite happy with where I am. Sure I'd love to publish a book (thankful for the articles under my belt but ready to move to that next level) but I'm thrilled with the time I have to write. I sense that I should take full advantage of the time I have to use at my discretion, and I'm happy.

    But it is so funny that this is your analogy today because my writing professors used to talk about our writing being our offspring and the process being like birth. Yesterday after I strained to crank out a chapter, I sat back and said "That was one hard labor!"

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  35. I love this post! And I'm so sorry you had to deal with stressful pregnancies. You're a wonderful mother--look at that snake cake! It's amazing!!

    I cherish the first draft of my books, but revisions are like disciplining a toddler--necessary but not fun!

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  36. Hey, Jody!!! Great post!

    I really try to cherish the process, because as much as I love to write and as much as I feel called to do it, I know nothing is guaranteed. In the end, I'm producing something, whether the world sees it on the shelf or not.

    By the way, I nominated you for an award on my blog! Hope it makes you smile!

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