Monday, 9 April 2018

I'll Take the Pethidine Now, Thanks...

There's a common trope in writing circles. It gets trotted out all the time, is massively overused, and is something I've resorted to a few times myself. It's the idea that writing a book is like having a baby. 

It seems writing a book is like... a  painful, 
bloody, dog-eat-dog, dystopian world?
As a happily child-free grown up, I'm in no real position to understand whether there's any merit to this comparison. But I've seen it made so many times, by women and men with kids, as well as by the likes of me, that there must be something in it. Lazy and oft-repeated though it may be, there has got to be some stock in comparing the creation, delivery and world-reception of a novel to the conception, birth and rearing of a newborn person. It's just easier to sit down on publication day. That's all.

So whilst recognising that this metaphor is far from original, I'm going to run with it a bit longer. You see this week is a big deal. This week, my beautiful, bouncing book-baby is one year old.

It seems only yesterday I was working out the juxtaposed timelines of 1996 and 2016 for the split-story narrative. It seems only yesterday I was converting the PDF doc and tearing my hair out when the spacing wasn't right. It seems only yesterday it went on sale and people actually bought something I'd written. But there we go. With the speed of light, we are here. One year later. My baby - also known as Carry the Beautiful, (available at all good online retailers) - has been in the world for a whole year. It's my proudest achievement to date, as well as the hardest thing I've ever done. It caused no end of stress at times, and then the giddiest, most joyous of feelings at others. I have buzzed from reading the reviews on Amazon, and like a Mum at parent's evening, I've been chuffed to bits when a stranger has seen something good in the kid that I invented. I've even loved it when I've been taken to task over plot twists. My neighbour was incensed by the ending. She had to tell me how much she wanted it to go another way. It made my day that she'd read it and that she cared. 

A canvas of Child Number One -
a birthday present from my siblings.
And now I've got past the midnight feeds and mustard nappy stage, I'm ready to do it all over again. I've forgotten the stresses, I've glossed over the frustrations and I've disregarded the headaches. I'm only remembering the good bits and I want them all over again. I'm done with promoting Carry the Beautiful now. That's in the past and I'm looking forward to what's next. My new book - title to be confirmed - will be out in Autumn. I've been focusing on all that entails for quite a while now. Carry the Beautiful, AKA Child Number One, is on the back burner. But this is where the baby metaphor breaks down. Is this is what parents feel during their second pregnancy? Is Child Number One, old news? (As my own family's Child Number One, I am very keen to hear feedback on this.) Perhaps it's time to ditch the pregnancy links once the first book is out. Maybe it's time to talk solely about writing and publishing and leave the contractions and the stitches alone. Book Number Two is simply book number two. It cannot be compared to anything else. 

Nah, let's milk every last drop of this tired old analogy. It's almost time for the three month scan. Pants are getting a little tighter and the queasy mornings are still in full flow. OK, OK, I'll stop there as I literally don't know what I'm talking about. But I do know I'm whittling down the list of potential titles. Once that's locked in, I'll be getting in touch with the cover designer. Then I'm going to be sending it to the editor. That's where we are at the moment. Book Number Two is gestating. And the good thing is, I've done it all before so I know when it's going to hurt and when it's going to feel marvellous. I just have to remember to breathe.

Have a lovely week, folks.

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