Every mother knows the fear of sending their baby out into the world, alone, undefended and at the mercy of other people’s children. There is nothing more terrifying to me as a mom than my daughter facing some of the agonizing childhood moments that I faced and knowing that I can do no more than my mother did, which is hold her and help her find a way to deal with it. There is a fierce protectiveness inside me that makes me want to find whatever child makes my daughter cry and have a serious heart to heart with said child’s parents.
Which we all know isn’t feasible or practical nor does it teach my daughter to stand on her own two feet. But that doesn’t make the fear of it happening and my reaction to it any less difficult to deal with. All I can do, in reality, is continue to raise my daughters with my family’s values and hope she’s learned good lessons on how to deal with the world.
Writing stirs a similar feeling inside me. My book is something I created, something that I spent hours giving birth to and grooming and shaping until it turned into the book that’s out there today. It takes a whole lot of thick skin and courage to send that sucker out into the world of agents and editors and let them pick apart your hard work. Every book has a piece of the writer in it and no matter how much we may pretend otherwise, no one wants to admit that their baby might be ugly.
In my case, my baby was ugly and needed several rounds of extensive plastic surgery before becoming anything remotely resembling a coherent novel. Unlike a real baby, my novel underwent massive changes and I learned to be ruthless, killing the scenes that I loved if they did not have a vital role in the overall story. While it was painful, eventually what emerged on the other side was a readable book.
Being a writer and being a mom are really the same but the biggest difference is that as a writer, you learn to shut off the negatives (not constructive criticism but the truly negative) and focus on how to get better. As a parent, you just want to make the pain stop for your baby. Both require an ability to cope with challenges and personal difficulties. Being a writer means having the courage to keep sending your baby out into the world until you find that one yes. Being a mom means having the courage to teach your kid that life isn’t fair and that everyone is not nice and that some people just aren’t worth the effort to be around and ultimately, it’s about having the courage to send your baby out in the world as they grow into adults.
Both are rewarding. Both are terrifying. And I wouldn’t give up either experience for anything.