Novels and Newborns

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They say each one gets easier and yet is just as hard.

It seems like a paradox, but I totally get it. You’re not so clueless as you were the first time: you know what to expect, you have plenty of tricks to employ now. And yet it’s still the same: there will still be nights where it keeps you up for hours.

Half the time it’s just a guessing game of figuring out what it needs, eliminating possibilities by trying tactics that don’t end up working until you find one that does.

Beginnings are still blah. How to catch a reader’s interest from the start? How to catch enough time for a shower?

Endings are still aggravating. How do I pull it all together? How do I pull through the cranky evening hours?

Middles are still murky. What do I write next? What do I do to get this baby back to sleep in the middle of the night?

Both newborns and novels teach patience and endurance. I tell myself that I just have to make it through the first draft/six weeks. And then it’ll get easier.

And once I make it through that draft/six weeks, I tell myself that I just need to get to the next milestone, whether another solid draft or a more independent skill stage like sitting up, playing with toys, eating solid foods, crawling, walking.

But yeah, I can admit that this third baby is easier than the first, just like my second novel has been much easier than the first. The reason is that I feel like I know what I’m doing. I know how to nurse efficiently, how to coax a baby to sleep, how to take advantage of the five-to-ten minutes at a time that he’s happy in the swing or distracted by his own hiccoughs, how to set up a nap schedule, all that. I’ve got the process down.

With writing, that’s the biggest factor: knowing your own process. On the first novel, I felt as clueless as I did with my first baby. I muddled my way through the first draft and then had no idea what to do with it next. Make the sentences prettier?

It’s sort of like when you bring your first baby home and treat it like a doll, dressing it in the different cute outfits you got at the baby showers. Sure, that’s fun, but it’s not really what parenting is about.

And of course, regardless of whether it’s your first or your fifth, etc, every newborn or novel is full of surprises, not going the way you’d expect. Sometimes that’s frustrating, but often it’s half the fun, like when it wakes you at 5am instead of 3am and those two extra hours feel like the best gift ever.

What do you think? What gets easier or stays just as hard for you after multiple children, novels, knitting projects, whatever?

Leave a comment!

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4 responses »

  1. What a great comparison! And yes, it does get easier. How many do you think it takes to become a pro? I still have to raise a few more baby novels before I’ll feel like I’ve got this down. Thanks for the post.

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