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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why Writing a Book is Like Teaching School AND Having a Baby

I forget every time I start something new just how hard it can be down in the trenches of a book.

I remember it differently, of course. I only remember that it must have been easy. (It could not have been this hard, could it?)

I look back on finished projects and remember typing the last words and a feeling sadness in my soul that my time with it is over. I remember working on the book like I was in love with it and all we did for the months that it took to get written was dance in fields of daisies (cushy daisies, of course) and make lovey-dovey eyes at each other.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I know this because in addition to writing my books and blogging, I play around in journals a lot. I also keep a document for each book in which I just free-write a lot about how the book is going, where I want it to go, why I can't seem to get there and all that. Oh, the angst!!! You would think I was a new teacher with the roughest class ever (been there, done that) or having a three day labor trying to pump out a giagantic baby (been there, done that). It's so hard. Why? Why? Why?


But I did. I went back and taught more kids (more than 20 years of teaching) had more babies (3 daughters altogether) and wrote more books (lots).


Because our minds are kind and we forget the hardest parts. We forget the self-doubt, the wondering if we have been fooling-ourselves-and-perhaps-we-shouldn't-be-doing-this-at -all
thoughts. We only remember the wonderful feeling of looking into the faces of children who couldn't read before they came to you, or holding your baby for the first time, or typing the last words on a story and knowing it is the best thing you have ever written.

So, the forgetting is great. It allows us the time, distance and hope to try to do it again.
It must not have been that hard, right? Daisies and lovey-dovey looks and all.

But then, there are days like today. AAAUUUGH! It was never this hard before! What am I doing wrong?? What? What? It was easy writing the last book, right?

I am glad for the journal entries which remind me that it was and is hard work to write a book.

Hard work.

But I made it through that book, which is now something I really love.

I can make it through this, too.

(So can you, even if you have never taught kids or had a baby....I promise.)



Jackee said...

Truer words were never spoken! This last book (Jedda) was the first that I've journaled/free-written a companion document with it and the angst was very apparent. And this book came easier than some!

Thanks for the pep talk, Shelley. I am in need of one. Our lovely little minds never forget how hard it is when we're in the moment for sure!

And back to our last conversation, I love, Love, LOVE those new leopard-printed Danskos. Maybe that's what I'll ask for next holiday....

Have a great day!

Kelly said...

Great post!!
And I have taught kids and had three babies, too!
My books usually take about nine months the school year and pregnancy!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I just started another book, and I'm excited to get back to my other book because me and book #2 are not good friend right now. (Can I call it book #2 if I'm not done with book #1?)

I hear you about the babies. I think if we remembered how tough it was, we'd definitely stop at one.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sounds kind of like going into shock to not feel the pain! Ha. This is a great post and soooooo true.

storyqueen said...

First off, thanks for stopping by! It was like a ghost blog here most of the day....everybody off at SCBWI an all.

Jackee-Think I am going to have the leopard Danskos, too. They are sooo cool looking...and a leopard clog=awesome.

Kelly-THAT is truly ironic!! 9 month for books, babies and school!

Jessie-It's just that I remember it all easier than it was. I remember being driven to trust the book...blah, blah, is so good to have the journal entries wherein I wonder if I am worthy or not.....and to know that I was indeed able to get over it.

Tricia-Aaauuugghhh! The pain!! (Okay, not that truly painful, but NOT easy!!!)

Missed Periods said...

My mom is so funny. She wants a grandkid so badly, she tells me that having kids was a piece of cake. Or maybe she's just forgotten...

Stephanie Faris said...

I always get to the point in the middle of a book where I'm sure the entire thing sucks and I'm going to have to scrap it. But if I'll just write through it, the payoff is magnificent. Maybe for me that's the "labor" portion!

Myrna Foster said...

This is very true, Shelley, (and just a little scary), but kids and stories are worth it.

Sarah said...

Love this post. Laugther, inspiration, and creative amnesia.

storyqueen said...

Missed-My mom brought a rocking chair home one rock her grandchildren in....except that there weren't any....*mom looks meaningfully at me*

Steph-I'd settle for below magnificent payoff....really.

Myrna-Yes, very worth it....even when people won't get off the stairs.

Sarah-ah yes, creative amnesia!

What? I forgot what that was....

Belle said...

Love this post! It's so true - I forget the being-miserable bits, just like I don't really remember much about the pain of labor. I kept a writing journal for one of my WIPs, but haven't gone back to reread it. I really should!

Tabitha Bird said...

So very true! I have two kids and a book. I am very pregnant with the next one :) If only the whole thing was less painful!

Lydia Kang said...

Isn't that forgetfulness unbelievable? Otherwise women would only ever have one baby.

It's a saving grace though. We get through so much in our lives because of that convenient amnesia.

Anne Spollen said...

Yes, lol -- my thoughts exactly when I went into labor with my last (and third) All the cute baby clothes talked me into her, all those pix with the little hats...then, Lord, HOW could I have forgotten this?

Same feeling with a book - I think evolution has taught us selective memory to keep a steady supply of babies and creative undertakings.

Really funny post!

Katie said...

Oh my gosh. I so needed to read this. What a great post!

storyqueen said...

Belle-Yes! Go back and read it. Sometimes I write good ideas in the journal that didn't make it in the first draft, but come in handy during revision time.

Tabitha-I remember being very pregnant with my third one.....(Glad it's you this time and not me!:)

Lydia-My husband has convenient amnesia, too. But it is usually doing stuff I asked him to do that he forgets.

Anne-Nothing is as compelling as baby girl clothes!!!

Katie-Well, I know that you know exactly what I am talking about!