I think it’s so funny how often I use the term “giving birth” when speaking of art I’m creating, yet how far I really am from knowing what birthing a real child is actually like.
Feeling “called” to be a mid wife, for example, is beyond me; granted, I know people have to feel a pull to the occupation or else people like me would have to deliver babies for our wives fairly regularly. A horrendous thought. How I made it through my daughter’s birth without passing out is a wonder. I think it was all the adrenaline. That or the shock of watching my wife yank two nurses off their feet during a contraction.
With my fall schedule finally slowing down, I’m now a week away from diving into the 3rd installment of The White Lion Chronicles (something I’ve been “a week away from” for over a month now). But I can’t help but think about the timing of my soon-to-be son arriving the first week of December coinciding with my own “labor” with this work. Granted, I will never ever dare to put writing a book on the scale of passing a grapefruit through…
Back to writing.
The similarity I notice is the span of time it requires for the baby, physical or artistic, to mature: the wonderful gestation period. I often find that my story sits in me for quite a long time, years most often, before it finally manifests on a page.
I was sitting recently with a friend of mine in our little “writer’s club” we started at our favorite coffee shop down the road. We meet weekly to discuss what we’re working on, our families, and God-stuff. He was mentioning to me how he felt very distraught that, though he’d been outlining, scribbling, hashing, and re-hashing for the last year, he had very little to show for it in the form of written pages.
The key here is that we so often confuse the “gestation period” with the actual “birthing” of our art. Doing so will usually lead to deferred hope, frustration, and the eventual termination of what was to be a glorious end. Yet if we had simply understood the process better, we would have recognized the needed time for maturing the “child.”
This week my wife hit what I call the “Get-This-Thing-Out-Of-Me” stage of her pregnancy. Before everything was tolerable, and in many was enjoyable. She gets to experience something I never will: having a living human being grow in her womb. But now any enjoyment is over, because the season for it is over. If the baby doesn’t come out soon, both the mother and the child will be at risk of loosing their lives.
Likewise, giving birth pre-maturely can be just as detrimental, if not more so. Trying to put something down on paper before it’s had its time to mature can produce an unhealthy child, as we all know.
Here I sit typing this little blog post and in the back of my mind I’m really thinking, “I should be working on my book.”
No matter where you are at as an author, or any matter of creativity, make an effort to identify what season you are in; if you can, I predict you will save yourself much needless heartache and ensure the birth of a wonderful “baby.”
PS – I love you, Jennifer!