Maybe it’s my age, and the ticking of my biological clock, but the longer this writing adventure goes on, the more it feels like being a mother.
Let me explain.
You may remember that in the summer of 2009, when I was embarking on the adventure, I wrote a clumsy blogpost about how it felt a lot like being pregnant: walking around carrying the invisible promise of something new and alive and a part of you, something that consumes your every thought and hope and dream.
Even the way it all started was a little like that sudden niggling realisation. Uh oh. I think I might be pregnant. I didn’t purposely sit down to start writing a novel. I was coming back from one of my first lessons with a new student, thinking, probably, about the West Wing (this was at the beginning of my, erm, interest), and it occurred to me, wouldn’t it be fun to teach Bradley Whitford French? And then I got out a notebook and started writing.
And now? Well. Maybe it’s the later stages of a very long labour. (I could get more specific, but I don’t want to put you off your breakfast.) At least, I hope it’s the later stages. I’m pleased with what I have so far, but I need another 12,000 words, and I’m not sure where they’re going to come from; but then I also didn’t know where the last 11,000 were going to come from, and somehow they appeared.
Well, actually, not ‘somehow’. A lot of it was thanks to the midwife, my new friend Rebecca. I’ve never met her in real life (yet) but we have talked a lot on Facebook over the last few months – we share a mutual, erm, interest – and she has been an incredible help and inspiration and support, cheering me on from the sidelines – push, push!
I sent her my draft back in the summer, and she came back with such helpful comments and ideas and suggestions that where I thought I couldn’t keep pushing, she gave me a fresh impetus. Above all, she is almost as excited about the novel, Inevitable, as I am, and that is so motivating.
And here’s where it’s also like being a parent. Those of you who are mums probably remember what it’s like to drop your first child off at school. Are they going to be okay out there in the big wide world? Will they be liked? Will others realise how special they are? What a privilege it is to meet them?
At the same time as I sent my second(ish) draft off to Rebecca, I sent it to four other people, three of whom had asked me repeatedly to send them a copy. Months later, I’ve heard nothing back from any of them apart from a couple of yes, I’m reading it comments.
It’s like your child coming home after you have spent all day wondering how they were getting on, and you ask, how was school, and they shrug and say, okay. And you ask, what did you learn and they shrug and say, stuff. And you ask, did you make friends and they shrug and say, I guess.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it?