In many ways, writing a book mirrors the labor required to carry and bring forth a child.
The work of writing really is more difficult than one might think. At a recent book signing an older man said, "It must be nice to earn your living sitting behind a computer writing all day long."
Now, he was suffering a couple of misconceptions--not the least of which is the idea I am earning a living--but I didn't choose to address the financial aspect of writing books just then. I replied testily, "Well, if you call composing what is essentially a 300 page term paper and then being forced to revise it multiple times 'easy,' then yes, I guess it is."
I am usually nicer to the people I meet at book signings.
I happened to write The Children Are Tender at the same time my daughter was pregnant with her second son, and so I was especially aware of the correlations between her labor to bring forth a baby boy and my work to produce a baby book. Strengthening the parallels between these experiences, the book coincidentally has forty chapters and human gestation lasts forty weeks.
At the end of the process of writing (carrying the child), editing (heading into labor), and design (what will this child look like?) there is a breathless pause as the book goes to print. Here the two experiences begin to differ markedly, because while a laboring mother is very much a part of the birthing process, editors, publishers, and art directors don't particularly welcome an over-anxious author's pushy inquiries into how the process is going. "PUSH!" is a not a command ever given to an author by the professionals overseeing the birth of a new book.
And so I wait, my role in this process mostly done. There will be a couple more proof-readings once the corrections to the injuries (I mean, format changes) that occurred during the birthing process (I mean, from the layout software) are corrected. And then I will have the opportunity to approve the cover art (wondering what happens if I should disapprove???). I'm anticipating one last bout of discussion over the baby's name (I mean, the book's title).
And then at long last I should be the proud parent of a bouncing baby book! Watch for the birth announcement here.