Most of us are privileged to experience a birth only a few times in our lives (unless you are a midwife like our daughter who says each one continues to move her). This week, my new book, To Belong: A Novel, is seeing the light and landing in the hands of readers.
Writing a book has often been compared to a birth. Having given birth to four children and written four books, I see resemblances but also differences. From the time of conception until the inevitable birth, the baby develops and grows inside the womb until it’s ready to be pushed outside into the world. The actual time of birth – when the baby breathes its first breath and when the author holds their printed book for the first time, can be pinned to a moment. For both, they were preceded by waiting and anticipating.
The process is different for a book because unlike a human’s birth, publishing a book requires sweat and tears from the beginning, when it’s just a vague thought in the author’s mind, until the debut. In writing terms this means hundreds of hours staring at the computer screen, daydreaming, wracking your brain, and waking in the night about whether the characters are believable, the descriptions are visible, and the plot makes sense. I believe I’m not the only budding author for whom writing a book carries with it self-doubt and insecurity. We’re exposing ourselves and taking off our masks, whatever kind of writing it is, whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.
In a pregnancy, once you discover you’re pregnant, although you may suffer morning sickness and other maladies, you know a tiny human being is on its way into the world, but with writing, there’s always the chance to stop and give up. A writer has to be passionate and totally committed to their topic and to the idea of publishing a book or they won’t have the motivation to go through each of the multiple steps along the way.
My books usually begin with a twinge in my brain about something that grips me, and I start making notes or an outline in my mind and on the computer. I like to get the first draft done as fast as possible with little editing in order to have something that can be gone over later. Some writers enjoy the next step of self-editing whereas for others it’s drudgery, reading the manuscript over and over again, until it’s finally ready to send off with trepidation to a few beta- or early-readers for feedback. What if it doesn’t make sense at all or if they feel like just putting it down? Does the opening grab them, and is the end satisfying? Maybe it’s full of “plot holes” where they get lost.
Finding an agent or publisher takes courage because you have to prepare for rejections. Thankfully, after Cladach Publishing accepted my first book, Walk the Land – A Journey on Foot through Israel, they have taken on the others too although I didn’t take it for granted. And thus begins the working together in more editing, the cover design, and marketing strategies.
So finally, three years after the lockdown which I used for writing, To Belong: A Novel, is officially launched. Mazal Tov!