Giving Birth To Your First Literary Baby

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...
Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She’s been in the womb for a while now, this gestating book of mine. Its been a long pregnancy this one, which is why her current working name is The Fucker.

But I think that (FINALLY) her due date might actually be getting closer, and now I’m getting quite nervous about the labour.

Which is why I’d like to tell you about a conversation I had with the old man about it the other day.

You see I’ve written the first draft, edited it a few million times and changed as much as I possibly can without transforming the plot completely and having to start all over again.

So I now have to take that brave step of showing my baby to someone – which is nerve-racking if I’m honest. It’s like the first time you show your real baby to the world and even though you know it’s probably quite ugly, because all newborns are, you still don’t want anyone to actually tell you that.

It took me four months before I told anyone that I’d been writing a blog, so you could say that self-confidence is not my strong point. You have to be brave to reveal your true persona publicly – which writing obviously does – to put yourself under the spotlight and allow people to judge you. And I admit that I’m as sensitive as a fucking cockroach to light when it comes to criticism.

I’ve ummed and ahhhed about who to hand my baby to for the first time. The obvious choice is the old man but he can be a harsh critic, and not as objective as I’d like. And the truth is that I’m more stung by his criticism than anyone else’s. But then again he knows me the best and secretly I would like his approval.

But there are two problems with him reading my draft. The first is that the subject matter of my material is not what I usually write about. Sure, I occasionally attempt ‘serious’ in my blog but the old man yawns impolitely when I do. There is some humor in the book but the plot has predominantly serious themes and undertones running through it, about death and relationships, dysfunctionality and all that serious shit.

All those things that the old man has never had the maturity to understand and spent a lifetime walking away from when confronted.

I bought of copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus recently and each time I catch him reading it furtively, I can see the signs of utter amazement on his face when he reads about Venus and women’s natural traits.

The second problem with him reading my manuscript is that he limits his choice of reading to fantasy.

So asking a philistine, who only reads fantasy books and quotes Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to our kids when trying to discipline them, might appear foolish. Not forgetting that he has never expressed a raw emotion in twenty years of marriage and I’m beginning to suspect that John Gray actually based the inhabitants of Mars on him.

Yet there is this gnawing duty within me that won’t go away. In some bizarre, marital- harmonising way I feel that I owe it to him. He has allowed me the time to grow my baby and to try and turn my dream into a reality and if he is my soul mate he should be able to put his own ideas aside and remain objective.

‘I think I’m almost ready for you to read the first part of my book,’ I mentioned casually over the weekend.

‘What’s it about again?’

‘Relationships – there’s this tragic event that rips a family apart leading to blame, depression and the crumbling of the familial infrastructure.’

‘Is it funny?’

‘Not exactly. It has its moments…’

‘Are there any dragons in it?’

‘No, no dragons.’

‘NO DRAGONS? Well, do any of the characters have superpowers?’

‘No, I can’t think of any superpowers other than love, compassion and integrity.’

*Sigh*

‘Isn’t there anyone else you can ask to read it?’

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7 thoughts on “Giving Birth To Your First Literary Baby

  1. Oh sorry, I laughed so much I spilled my wine on the cat who was asleep on my lap (and most of the laptop) and she scratched my tummy as she leapt off. Now I only have half a glass of wine and bloody scratches all over my tummy. BUT, it is worth it! Your book is going to make you millions and I want to be first in line for a signed copy. Then you can take your husband to Harry Potter World in London. I hear it’s terrific for kids of all ages!

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  2. It’s so difficult when your spouse doesn’t appreciate your writing, I know. My fiance and I are both writers, but.. while I have no problem writing dark things and reading them, he always tends to stick with the cheerful stuff. He still reads my manuscripts and does offer good constructive criticism, but I can always tell when he doesn’t really enjoy it.

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  3. YES!! This is exactly how I feel with my husband. Sorry — no advice, but I loved this post. I’ll read your book.

    A few months back I was stuck about where to go with one of my story lines. I decided it would be a fabulous idea to discuss it with my husband. It was not. Without coming right out and saying it, he danced around his real opinion which was pretty much that I needed more action — any action. The problem is that my stories are NEVER action-driven. The discussion did not end well. I was sensitive and convinced myself that I was a dreadful, worthless writer. He naturally accused me of not handling criticism well, and then swore up and down that he was trying to be helpful. Disaster….I’ll leave it at that.

    Good for you for finishing. I love reading your blog and I’m certain your book is amazing.

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    1. Thanks for your words. My first attempt at a book, years ago, was a humorous look at mothers who didn’t suit parenting – before we were allowed to admit that motherhood doesn’t suit everyone. Anyway, showed it to OM and he said it needed to be fiction, with a plot. Tried to change it – Disaster! Ended up in the bin!

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