For the first half of my pregnancy, I kept waiting for the day when I’d actually start looking and feeling pregnant. “This isn’t a food baby,” I wanted to tell people about my slightly-poochy gut. “There’s a real baby in here.”
Even though my pregnancy app told me each day how my baby was growing and changing, it didn’t seem from the outside like much was happening. From week to week it was hard to notice any changes. I often had to remind myself that there really was a baby in there – it was surprisingly easy to forget.
A month or two after I found out I was pregnant, I started working on a new middle-grade novel. At first, it wasn’t much of anything. Just some half-formed ideas and attempted outlines. Even when I started writing a draft, I wasn’t sure it was going anywhere. I didn’t tell anyone about the novel because I feared it was terrible. Still, every day I managed to eek out a couple pages. My goal was to finish the draft by the time the baby was born.
So imagine my surprise when I finished the first draft last week – it had only taken me four months! Less time than gestating a human!
Now, with three months left until my baby’s due date, I’m finally looking pregnant. I’m feeling pregnant, too. The baby kicks (and wriggles and summersaults) all the time, which is really exciting. And I’m experiencing some back pain, along with The Worst Heartburn Ever. (Seriously, I have to sleep sitting up so that stomach acid doesn’t burn my throat all night long. Ugh.)
Still, it doesn’t feel all that strange to me. Sure, I’ve gained 12% of my original body weight since getting pregnant, but it happened so gradually I don’t really feel any heavier. I’m still doing most of my normal yoga, even some of the difficult balance poses like half moon. (Talk to me again at nine months and we’ll see what I have to say about this!)
But the point is, it’s not like you go from normal to enormous overnight. It takes nine months to grow a baby, and, for me at least, it’s been happening so slowly that my body has had time to adjust.
It occurs to me that the same is true when writing a novel. At first it seems from the outside like nothing is happening. I spin my wheels for a while in the brainstorming stage, wondering when I’ll actually get to work and begin writing.
When the pages start coming, it still feels frustratingly slow. Two pages yesterday. A whopping three pages today. Doesn’t seem like much progress. When is this going to start looking and feeling like an actual novel? But 15 pages a week makes 60 pages a month, which makes 240 pages in four months. And suddenly it’s a novel. It happens gradually, but it happens all the same.
Not that my book baby is ready to be delivered into the world. It’s still a draft. It needs a couple of good revisions, I’m sure. I’ve let one trusted writer friend read it, and to my delight, she stayed up until past midnight to finish it. That gave me a much-needed shot of confidence: apparently this new book isn’t as terrible as I feared. Of course, she also gave me some helpful feedback for how to make the novel better. Now my new goal is to finish a revision by the time the baby is born.
If experience has taught me anything, it’s that I can write a novel in a couple of months, but it takes me a couple of years to revise it… So maybe writing a book takes longer than growing a baby after all.
Sometimes this pregnancy thing seems like it’s taking so long. It’s been forever since I’ve had a glass of wine at dinner, and I can’t believe I still have three entire months to wait before I can meet my wee one. Still, the body knows what it’s doing. Slow and steady wins the race, and my baby will be worth the wait.
The same will be true for my book. These things take time.