Just in case you missed the first trillion times I mentioned it: giving birth was really hard.
Now I am about to give birth again. This time, to a book.
In some ways, giving birth to a book is harder than giving birth to a baby. Now before all you “au natural” baby-makers have a shit fit and start throwing your placentas at me for comparing book-writing to birth-giving, let me explain.
Once you’re preggers, your work is pretty well done. I mean you still need to squeeze it out of your panty hamster in nine months and that’s gonna take some blood, sweat and tears. And once the baby arrives your life is over and you will never poop right or think straight again. But there’s not a lot of work in the build-up, ya know? Throw some meat and potatoes down the chute now and then, lay off the crack pipe, and most fetuses are good to go. Sure, you’re fat, swollen and tired as hell, but what are ya gonna do — turn back? Change your mind? Too late to double-bag it now, missus. The abortion clinic people will NOT believe you had a big lunch, so don’t bother. Even if you decide to clench your piss flaps together for all eternity, this baby is coming out of you. You WILL be giving birth.
Giving birth to a book, on the other hand, requires a shit ton of perseverance.
You can abort a book. You can and you will have second thoughts. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Maybe everyone will hate my book. Maybe they will hate me! You can say fuck this shit and go back to NOT being an author, because there’s nothing wrong with keeping your dreams in your head for a while longer, or maybe forever. You don’t need this drama right now. You were perfectly happy jotting down book ideas on envelopes while flipping the French toast and stirring the oatmeal. Of course, now that I’ve gotten so far into it, I have a contract that binds me to DELIVERING the paper baby. But they can’t physically MAKE ME do it. There’s always jail. Unlike having a baby where there’s no going back, I could go back on the book. So I have to CHOOSE to keep going, despite the doubts and the fears.
You have no time. Nobody has any time, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I have less time than most because I’m a woman with a husband, a child, a dog, and a career in (SFX: scary organ music) ADVERTISING. Which means, for me, 9 to 5 is just a song by Dolly Parton. I need to MAKE TIME. I’m not just a full-time working mom. I’m also a fucking magician: I pull a couple extra hours out of a hat every couple of days. I have to, or my whole life would consist of: work, eat, parent, sleep, with occasional hair removal, day in and day out. Where does writing a book fit in there exactly? Writing recipes or a grocery list or a list of all the people I’d like to slap upside the head — those are feasible writing tasks. But… A BOOK? A MOTHERF***ING BOOK. Where does THAT come in?
Somewhere in between the supper dishes and the puppet show and the mommy guilt. When I was having a baby, before I got in the full swing of smotherhood, life was so simple. My time was my own, mostly. Now, as I try to give birth to a book with a little boy asking me to watch him every time he jumps from one pillow on the couch to another (lame-o) and a career in high gear that keeps the bills paid and the liquor cabinet stocked, I have to want it REALLY, REALLY BAD. So bad that I, David Cop-a-Feel, will pull that extra hour of time out of my anus if I have to.
You need to sell it. You can’t just write a book and go hide in a cave. No matter how ugly you fear it might be between those covers, you gotta get out there and sell it. Believe in it and talk about it. People have questions for you. These people are paying MONEY to read your crap, so smile and be grateful. When you have a baby, you can stay home and hide if you want to. Nobody needs to see your wee one if you don’t wanna. But this baby, this new life, this BOOK — it’s out there, man. People are gonna have it on their coffee tables and nightstands. They’re gonna be reading it in the bathtub, and while they’re taking a dump, and that is a true honour. Of course, they might despise every page of it. Some people most certainly will. Everyone loves your human baby because it’s an innocent party in all of this. But many will hate your paper baby, because you made it, and you suck.
So miraculously, the book is written, but the editing process is now underway. This is the part where someone who knows what they’re doing (sidenote: you do not) takes your manuscript and extracts the good stuff, kills off the shit stuff, helps you fix sentences and shuffle around chapters and make it all-around better. One second I’m thinking “damn, I’m funny” and the next it’s “damn, what I was thinking when I wrote that?” It’s a tedious process but I’m enjoying it, because every change is making it tighter, funnier, and more worthy of sitting in the palm of your hand while you pinch a loaf. I kinda wish everything else would go away so I can focus on making this thing the best it can be. But I’m a MOM, so that’s not gonna happen. And it’s OK. I’m used to imperfection. And time with my son — my muse — reminds me why I’m doing all this in the first place.
I have about four weeks to finish baking the bun in the oven. I’m bearing down. I’m trying to breathe. I’m begging for drugs. So when you hold my new baby (Motherfumbler, from Breakwater Books) in your hands mid-September, please keep in mind: I worked hard to give birth to this little bastard. You should therefore pick up its twin and give it to your sister.