I put the individual cups of mac-and-cheese that my kids clamored for, and that I usually found so repulsive, in my cart. But I didn’t care. I swung my cart past the boxes and boxes of Technicolor cereal, pulled a cartoon-emblazoned brand off the shelf, and nonetheless smiled. I loaded snack-sized metalized polypropelyne bags of air-riddled, cheese-flavored corn puffs on my pile–and my heart soared anyway. Because I knew something no one else around me knew. I had a secret.
Inside me was an idea. And it was great. And weird, bizarre, fascinating, and all-consuming. My secret was that I was writing a book. But I couldn’t tell anyone yet. It was too soon. Because the book was hardly formed. There was almost nothing to say. It was hardly more than an idea, really, just a bundle of rapidly growing thoughts.
And like when I was newly pregnant with my kids, the secret colored everything around me. I saw the world through a halo. Everything was a little brighter, a little more intense, and a lot more interesting now that I was growing this new thing inside me. I even wondered if I had a telling glow.
Being pregnant with my book was, in so many ways, better than being pregnant with my kids. I didn’t have to give up coffee or wine, both of which seemed to only improve my ideas rather than stunt them. I felt elated not nauseous. I didn’t have to worry that my jeans might need a rubber band to stay buttoned. I wouldn’t leak any weird fluids, or get constipated.
I never named my kids in utero, but Spineless claimed its name fairly early on. And naming Spineless made it real. It was part of my life and wasn’t going anywhere. I had to get used to how that would change me.
Like being pregnant, writing Spineless has been bewildering, frustrating, worrisome, and tiring. It’s also been joyful and powerful. It has developed, changed, reorganized, and matured. Spineless isn’t my private secret any more. It has taken on a life of its own.
While human pregnancy has three well-defined periods and due date you can pretty well estimate, the gestation of a book is unknown. It might last longer than that of the basking shark, which carries its young for a literally gut-wrenching three years. This one has. The idea of Spineless was conceived in 2010–and I’m still functionally pregnant.