Friday, 25 January 2013


Paula Rawsthorne asks the novelists out there, does it feel like you've given birth to a BookBaby?

Am I alone in thinking that the experience of writing of a novel is comparable to the whole business of conception, pregnancy and birth?  I’m not suggesting that the length of time taken to complete writing a novel is nine months (my new book has had the gestation period of an elephant).  Rather, I’m comparing the emotional aspect of  both processes.  So for instance, the conception is usually the part that’s the most fun and carefree with much thrashing around involved as you create your idea! Then, once you embark on the actual writing, you can become so wrapped up in crafting the story that it feels  like they’re nurturing an embryo (the idea)into a full term baby (your big, bouncing final draft).

Like the experience of being pregnant, the journey when writing a novel can be scary, exciting, frustrating, stimulating, exhausting and all-consuming.  The gestation period can feel like an eternity and you become so emotional that you look at your ever changing body (of work) and one day love it, the next day, burst into tears at the sight of it.

If the first trimester involves completing your first draft, the second involves all the inevitable rewrites and the third involves the final push when you’re so exhausted you just want someone else to get the damn thing out!!  Whilst enduring the labour pains of giving birth to your book, you may be heard shouting for drugs but, usually, you’ve left it too late and just have to get on with it through sheer bloody mindedness.

Sadly, a writer’s body may even start to resemble that of a pregnant woman.  After all, you spend so many months sitting on your backsides typing and eating biscuits that bellies tend to swell.

Of course, once it's born you are fiercely protective of your new book baby.   You created it.  It’s part of you.  So when you show it to agents, publisher and readers, you want them to love it and tell you it’s adorable.  That’s why rejections and critical comments hit so hard.  It’s like someone telling you, “Wow, your baby is ugly!”

Mother Nature is extremely cunning and, unless your partner has taken a video of you in the throes of childbirth (why do people do that!?) you forget just how awful it is.  Soon your vow to “never go through that again” becomes, “Actually, it wasn’t too bad.  Perhaps I’ll give it another go.”  So too for the writer - the elation of finishing your shiny, polished manuscript makes you forget the pain and exhaustion of writing it and you start contemplating your next one.

So, am I just weird in drawing parallels between the whole pregnancy thing and the emotional journey of writing a novel?   I’d love to know your writing process comparisons.
Paula Rawsthorne is author of the award winning, The Truth About Celia Frost.  Her new thriller, Blood Tracks, is out in June 2013.


1 comment:

  1. Writing a book is definitely an emotional journey. But for me it's like being on a very long roller coaster rather than pregnancy and childbirth, as I've never forgotten a minute of that! There are some parallels though: the consequences of eating and sitting around for too long...