Writing a Book Is Like Giving Birth to an Elephant

I’m glad I listened to the voice that said "Try to write a novel."

Sally Koslow’s latest novel is The Late, Lamented Molly Marx,

Five years ago, if you’d told me that in 2009 I’d be a woman who works wearing sweats, in an office that doubles as a spare bedroom, finishing her third novel, I’d have asked what you were smoking. I’d shimmied up the greasy pole, happily balancing on the top as the editor-in-chief of a magazine that you—or even your mom—might have loved. Then…whoops. I fell, landing far away from the vortex of activity that is a Manhattan editorial office.

In the shattering quiet that was my new life, I asked fundamental questions. With no witty colleagues beside me, who will I talk to all day? Where’s the I.T.guy? Most important, who am I? I’d made plenty of bad decisions in my life, but one I never second-guessed was becoming an editor, the universe’s best job. What now? And the 30 years after them?

Then, one day, a voice squeaked: “Try to write a novel, Sal,” Though I was probably the one woman in the Western world convinced that she most definitely did not have a book in her, I listened to the voice—because I had no better prospects and nothing to lose. I persuaded a creative writer teacher to let me join his in-progress workshop because I instinctively knew that only if a teacher barked “it’s due in a week,” would I actually put words on paper. I’m a procrastinator at heart, but I respect deadlines, since my life had been measured out by them for thirty years. My teacher gave me an assignment. I fulfilled it. Again, and again…

Writing a book is like giving birth to an elephant. A gestation period of approximately twenty-two months is followed by a baby that for a moment attracts glittering attention—readings, spiking Amazon.com ratings, and a shiny moment of admiration followed, soon enough, by someone else’s baby elephant. Yet you, the author, try again.

I’ve repeated this process two-and-a-half times. My first novel, Little Pink Slips—about a magazine editor who loses her job!—is being followed this month by The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, and soon my third book is due. Some days I miss my old job, but mostly, I just miss the shoes and the people who wear them. Writing fiction is hard, exhausting, creative—but it’s all mine. I’m glad I listened to my squeaky little voice.

Sally Koslow, author of
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, invites you to visit her at www.sallykoslow.com

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