A Birth Share Project. We breathe - We birth - WE become

Two births, two books: The differences between writing a book and becoming a mother

I love written submissions to the circle of birth, and this one Is pretty special! Kim and I were primary school buddies, I discovered her first book after my mother lined up at our local library from my old home town. I felt so much connection to her first book ‘Peace Love and, Khaki Socks‘ That I ended up buying 10 of them to hand out to my doula families! This book is a great story of a first time mother and how she reclaimed her birth and her decision making.

Kim was a writer long before this though, we wrote a ghost book at school that was completely realistic, we would take it home each night and journal about the sightings and what ghosts were haunting the school. Kim wrote then so eloquently about the shuffling of the trees at night and her description on how she felt during the ghostly encounters, I wrote about eyes sticking out of drain pipes and nosies from the sanitary incinerator we had a school. Now that machine put everyone of wanting to menstruate thats for sure! Kim is super busy writing her next book and I feel deeply humbled that she could write a little submission below.  Have a look at her work and anyone I highly recommend both her books they struck many chords in my feminine self and placed a real value on what relationships mean and how we can find truths in this.

Info on her publications here

More writings by Kim including breastfeeding, motherhood, informed choice, violence and abortion here.

By Kim Lock

Sometimes, writers are drawn to make the comparison between writing a book and giving birth. In many ways, heaving out a manuscript can be likened to giving birth. It is time consuming, ripe with moments of pain and doubt, fear and elation. Releasing a book can feel like watching a child go off into the world. Will they be okay? Will people like them? Will people say nice things about them?

When my debut novel, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks was published in 2013, it was a comparison I was often drawn to make. (The fact that the novel is about a pregnant woman trying to find her own way to birth, of course, makes this comparison easy to draw indeed.)

Then when my second novel, Like I Can Love, was released in Australia early last year, I found myself facing an entirely different handful of anxieties. Could I handle the publicity? Would the book sell enough copies? Would I be asked questions about violence against women or mental illness to which I didn’t know the answer?

Just like my first experience of having a baby taught me to let go of any expectations, so did releasing my first novel. And just like my second baby proved a completely different experience, so did my second novel.

And yet.

Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, says that her books are not her babies. Gilbert says, ‘If anything I am it’s baby … my creative work has been creating ME, all along.’

As a writer I ask myself, what hold do my stories have over me – or me over them?

And in a similar way, do we shape our experiences of childbirth – or does birth shape us?

Ten years ago, my first pregnancy was an unplanned surprise. At that point in my life I had not given a lot of consideration to becoming a parent. So, faced with a positive pregnancy test, I found I had to grow up. Fast.

Navigating my way through that pregnancy was tumultuous. First of all I had to reconcile my mixed feelings about being pregnant. Our society seems to promote a very black-and-white, either/or view of pregnancy in that women either elatedly do want to be pregnant, or definitively don’t. I found myself for many weeks in a wash of ambivalence, and that was tricky.

Fortunately for me, human pregnancy is long. As the morning sickness eased I gained some confidence. I also found further support in a doula – and that was a pivotal turning point for me. There is nothing more fundamental to finding your feet than someone walking with you, whispering,

Listen to your heart. See? You’ve totally got this.

My first baby was born in hospital; my second baby was born at home. My first book was published by a small press; my second book by a large Australian publishing house and rights have been sold internationally. And while I’m not planning on having any more children, I’m certainly planning on writing more books – the next one is due out early 2018.

So, does writing a book feel the same as having a baby?

No, it doesn’t. There is no human experience that comes close to the cracking-open, the vulnerability, the sheer surrender to ourselves that giving birth requires of us.

But – there are similarities between becoming a parent, and the way the creation of art calls us to be raw and messy and primal. In the same way that art teaches us to mine the depths of our experience for gems or to confront our darkest moments, so too does facing our fears and hopes in giving birth and becoming a parent.

KIM LOCK is an Australian author and writer, volunteer breastfeeding counsellor, and activist for women’s reproductive rights. Her second novel, Like I Can Love, was published by Pan Macmillan Australia in 2016. Find out more at www.kimlock.com.au or on Twitter: @KimRLock

Written submissions just like these are welcome to The Circle of Birth – Please email me your submission and we can go from there.

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