Birthing a Book —by Jinny Batterson
As I near the May 1, 2018 official launch date of my first-ever published book, Where the Great Wall Ends: A China Memoir, I’ve been pondering the similarities and differences between creating a child and creating a book. Both are exciting; both can be scary at times; both involve some pain and expense; both require time and energy.
The specifics, however, can vary. The gestation period for a baby falls within a somewhat predictable range, typically 7-9 months. For a book, the period from first inkling to publication can be as short as a few months or as long as most of a lifetime. The process of going from initial cells/initial words to baby or book nearly always involves a certain amount of risk and uncertainty. There are times in both processes when I’ve been uncomfortable, when I’ve questioned why I ever decided to embark on this adventure in the first place, when what I’ve wanted most of all is for the “pregnancy” to reach completion.
In both types of birthing, I’ve benefited immensely from the help and advice of those with broader, deeper experience than mine. It is only half jokingly that I’ve complimented one of my editors on her midwifing skills. Again, some differences: the labor pains for a book are less physical, but can still be intense—for a couple of weeks now, I’ve often awakened in the middle of the night with a stray thought about one more person I’d like to alert to the book’s impending arrival. I’ve had pangs of regret for not completing the publication process sooner, so some of those who’ve already left the planet might have had a chance to view the finished product.
So now, as my mom used to say once she’d completed the dress rehearsal for a musical or theater production, it’s all over but the shouting. What sort of world will greet my China memoir? What changes in global politics and natural environment will Where the Great Wall Ends experience as it “grows up”? These are factors beyond my control.
I can only hope that I’ve written as true an account as I can of my experiences, and that some of what I’ve lived through will help generate greater understanding in the lives of my readers. Happy birthday, book!