For almost exactly 12 months it’s been just me and my story alone in the lamplight, late at night and early in the morning, my characters and my plot incubating and growing and quickening in my imagination, their only outlet on the world the tiny, password protected window of my laptop.
And now – shockingly, painfully, savagely (the words are not too strong, believe me!) my story has been dragged out into the world, exposed to the clinical gaze of disinterested others, the casual scrutiny of experts.
“She’s a bit, um, thin isn’t she?”
“Why on earth is he doing that?”
“You’re going to have a few sleepless nights with this one!”
What did I expect? A painless delivery from my mind straight to the shelves of Waterstones? An effortless morphing of Charter 12 point font to TV mini series (starring a handsome hybrid of Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner and an unknown but stunning female lead)?
Of course not! I mean, not really, not deep down. Didn’t JK Rowling get rejected 99 times or something? And see how that nice Peter May couldn’t find a UK publisher for his new book even though he was an already a successful published author? And what about that lovely lady I met at the writers’ festival who’s being carrying around her story now for six years?
And then one clicks around and sees a world full of books and – really? – is there room for anymore? Is there a need for any more? What could I (a midwife in her middle years, timid mountaineer and failed romantic) possibly have to say? Why not just give up and avoid years of disappointment and rejection and gradual chipping away of confidence?
But the infant is here now – scrawny, spotty, a bit jaundiced – mewing in his cot and one feels a sense of responsibility, a need to at least make an effort to nurture that pathetic scrap, to realise that potential, to push for that dream. Because nobody else will bother if I don’t, that’s for sure.
So, the private, special, potent months of pregnancy are over and the kid’s arrived and – quite frankly – it’s time to man up.
And no more childbirth analogies. Promise.