“Write a book, they said. It’ll be easy, they said.” – Jeff Goins, Author.
The concept of writing a book is a notable and noble-sounding goal. It holds the promise of notoriety, publicity and personal reward, with the act of publication held high as a sort of monumental achievement.
But there’s another, less-often discussed side to publishing a book. When I published and launched Surviving Singledom, it felt unreal for quite a while, as though someone else had written the book. It felt strange to give away a bundle of ideas that had, for years, been solely my property. Now my personal ideas, discoveries and experiences are shared with the world.
Writing a book is, for me, comparable to having a baby; a baby who, from the outset, is intended for adoption. The baby is carried to term in order to hand it over to someone else. (Even though I knew this from the beginning, it did not seem to lessen the sense of fear and loss at the point of separation.)
When I embark upon the journey of writing, I care for the book as one might care for an unborn baby. For years I cherish and nurture the growing life inside me. I love it completely and from the very core of my being. I protect this baby, knowing it will need all my love if it is to thrive. I sacrifice other interests, shelve other pursuits, resist other temptations, do all that is required for the sake of this little one.
I long to meet this child. I visualise it’s appearance and wonder what it will look like when it actually arrives. I can feel that day approaching, like an oncoming storm. Everything within me anticipates that ultimate arrival and I become increasingly prepared for the birthing.
Then, delight of delights, the baby is born. But delight quickly gives way to heartache and fear. All of the building excitement and longing, culminating in the joy of completion, is subsumed by anxiety for the baby’s future. Who will adopt this child? Will they care for it and prize it, as I have done?
What if, horror of horrors, this child is criticised, neglected, disregarded or forgotten entirely? These are the normal fears of a writer, dear reader, and it was my greatest fear when I reached the point of releasing my finished work into the world.
It may be necessary at this point to explain why a writer entertains such irrational fears. For me, the fear is about the hope I poured into the book. Hope is what drove me to write it in the first place.
I had hopes about who this book might reach and encourage. I hoped it would arrive just in time for some people. I had a sense of readers awaiting my finished book, during the entire 5 years of writing. I knew that when it was ready, there would be willing adoptive parents waiting to receive it.
It is this emotional investment in hope that attached me so thoroughly to my book. Beyond the exercise of the intellect, writing requires an engagement of the soul. I have called upon all of my memories, emotions, opinions and faith in writing this book.
It may not surprise you to learn that I have begun work on my next book. I plan to use much the same approach with this next literary work as with my previous one. Planning to give one’s baby away is possibly the hardest part of creativity, and yet, perhaps the most necessary.