When I had my first baby twelve years ago (how did that happen?) I was so naïve. I’d been around babies enough to know that I loved their little fingers and toes and the way they smelled. I’d changed a diaper here and there, and put a few babies to bed. I thought I knew what I was getting into.
I remember that first night at home trying so hard to get my brand-new baby to sleep. I tried the cradle and he wasn’t having it. I rocked him but it did no good and finally I put him in the swing. It was a wind-up swing that had been gifted, used, to us. I’d wind it and it would last about ten minutes before stopping. I’d lay on the couch and sleep until I heard him cry then I’d wind again. The first night was broken up into ten minute intervals.
Luckily I got my bearings and figured the parenting thing out (at least somewhat) but along the way there were many sleepless nights and even a few tears shed. The one thing that was a constant through the ever-changing landscape of parenting was my love for him. I adored him. I could just sit and stare at him seemingly endlessly, completely in awe of who he was, overwhelmed with the knowledge that he was mine and I was his.
My first book, in many ways, was like a first child. I jumped in enthusiastically but somewhat unprepared. I’d read A LOT but not written anything longer than a research paper. I didn’t know exactly what writing a novel would entail but I was eager and excited. I had romantic notions about the whole experience. I longed for the beautiful and exciting parts of it all but didn’t spend much time thinking about the difficult parts of writing a full-length novel.
It didn’t take long before I came face to face with challenges. I realized I am grammatically challenged (I still am — I love editors) I realized that it was much more difficult to get a story from A to Z than I had thought. I didn’t realize I’d be up so late at night, night after night after night. I didn’t know that I’d be given different advice from different people and I’d sometimes question which advice to follow. I didn’t know that I’d have to have a thick skin as I braced myself for critiques. But that if I could just be humble enough to listen, my story would get better.
That first writing experience was fun and exhilarating and hard. I doubted myself often, but I loved it so I kept going. That love of telling a good story never went away. It was my constant.
I always wanted a large family. When my oldest was starting to walk around my house, in his cute wobbly way, we started talking about another baby. It was different this time. We knew we would love another child and that we wanted another baby. We also knew that having another baby would mean sleepless nights. It would mean diapers and expenses. It would mean crying and laundry. The reality of a baby is that there are sleepless nights, messy diapers, and family dynamic adjustments. We still wanted it. We chose to have another baby, knowing the difficult times were part of the joy.
Choosing to write another book in many ways feels like choosing to have another child. Not in as drastic or life altering a way but the similarities are there. Choosing to write book two meant choosing sleepless nights. Choosing research and edits. Choosing to have my work criticized and picked apart. It also means being able to watch my story unfold. It means getting to know and love new characters. It means putting my time and passion into something.
I love my babies (I’ve a houseful). My eyes are open and I pick them. I pick parenting them over anything else (even over writing if that’s ever required). I pick it knowing it’ll be hard. I pick it knowing that it’ll be smelly and loud and full of days when I question myself. I pick it knowing that my love for them is deep and strong and powerful.
I pick writing too. I pick it knowing it will be challenging and that I’ll see failure along the way. I’m about to begin a new project and it’s scary knowing what I’m getting into but I pick it anyway!
How about you. What things did you begin naïve? What things are hard but worth it in your life?