Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bringing Your Baby into the World

Getting a book out there for people to read isn't a simple process. I tend to see it like having a baby.

First the baby is conceived. The book idea is come up with and the first words are penned. Sometimes, the beginning of a book is exciting, new and full of promise. Sometimes, it takes much sweat and tears to come up with the idea. I know for some women, to conceive may take much travail - fertility injections and timed love making. I'm so grateful that I had the opposite problem, hence my second and third children coming a little earlier than planned!

Next the baby (foetus) develops slowly in the womb. I'm going to compare the first trimester to the writing stage of the book. Being pregnant is a mixture of pure thrill and intense discomfort and trouble. I've been pregnant three times. Each time, there were some challenges and each time, there was the magic excitement of bonding with the child inside me especially when they began to kick or I saw an ultrasound scan (which weren't too clear in Zambia years ago.) This is the time period of writing the book. There are days when the words just flow and other days when it's like swimming in mud. Some books require extra research and rewriting of scenes. Some pregnancies require extra care like in my first pregnancy, I had to take bed rest for a week or so because of spotting. With my second, I had persistent bladder infections. (TMI, sorry.) Some books flow and are finished within two months. I can't say I've had any very easy pregnancies but I think some women just fly through them.

The second trimester is that euphoric stage when you've sent off your book and received a contract for it. The second trimester means usually all the morning sickness has gone, you have the pregnancy glow and you have the physical outward sign of all your hard work - carrying the baby. So, once you have a contract, you have something to show for all your hard work. It's a euphoric feeling. Your baby is going to see the world and the world is going to see your baby (book).

Then towards the end of the second trimester and entering into your third, you have this lo-o-o-o-o-ng waiting feeling - that stage between receiving the contract and waiting for your first round of edits.

I don't know about you, but those nine months tended to drag when I was pregnant. The time seemed to almost stand still. Especially towards the end, when your stomach is expanding and stretching your skin to the max, when your belly button is no longer a meteor hole but a mountain. When you can't reach your feet to cut your toenails and every movement is a great effort. Forget about shaving your legs. Afternoon naps keep you sane and you wonder if you'll ever have this baby.

That's how I feel at the moment. I have four babies in the womb at the moment. Four babies I've spent the last nine months or so working hard to ready for the world and they don't seem anywhere nearly ready to come out.

Then the day comes. You go into labour. You receive your first round of edits. Ouch! Editing. Your body is wracked with pain, you writhe, you don't know if you're going to make it. Is your baby going to survive and come out healthy? Will you survive or lose your voice totally? No, your baby will come out flushed and let rip a huge scream after a lungful of air to announce to the world that he/she is healthy and full of life. So, hang in there, those painful few moments before your book is birthed are the hardest but they will come to an end!

Those first few days are so exciting! You are riding on the high of bringing your new child into the world. You are bonding with how she looks (the new cover) and how perfect she now is. You sometimes doubt yourself. Will you be a good mother? Will you give this child all the attention and nutrition she needs? Will your child be happy and succeed in life? Will you be able to promote this book so it sells? Will this book succeed? Will it take off and find a life for itself in the world?

That I can't answer you but I'm sure you'll be a wonderful nurturer of your baby.

My oldest son with his newborn sister - 2003
For those reading this blog who aren't writers or women, I hope you weren't bored silly. It was fun to write though. Possibly, this analogy could be compared to bringing any dream of yours to completion. It takes time and hard work.

PS: Once the baby is born, the real work begins. Once your book is published, the real work begins. Promo!

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