Why I wrote Making Finn

When I was four months pregnant I went into a panic. I realised that I was bringing another human being into the world that I would be responsible for clothing and feeding. Roxi and I could barely afford to clothe and feed ourselves. Granted, we would obviously stop drinking so much bubbly and we would no longer spend money on fun weekends away with our sprightly child-free friends. But still, the thought of school fees and swimming lessons and birthday presents and a house with more than one bedroom was enough to reduce me to a blithering wreck. That, and all the pregnancy hormones. And so in a hysterical flurry I emailed all my magazine contacts to find out if there was any work that I could do at night on a freelance basis that could help me supplement my income and buy three years’ worth of nappies.

And so it was that I was commissioned to write a weekly column for women.24.com on my experience of being pregnant and bringing a small child into the world. Which I did, happily, for two years. At which point I had the idea to write a book. Writing the columns and the mostly positive response I got to them, gave me the confidence to write a book about how we conceived Finn in the unconventional manner in which we did.

But I was also motivated by a number of other things. For a long time after Finn was born it felt like I was telling the same story over and over again. Everyone we met seemed hugely curious as to how two women could have arrived at having a baby. I got weary of telling the story again and again and had fantasies of simply being able to hand over a book and say, “If you’re interested, read this…”

But what really drove me to write down our story to the end was that I wanted to have a record for our children. I wanted them to know how we had arrived at the decision to conceive them in the way we did and I wanted their unique conception story to be preserved.

I did not think that the book would be published and, while I was writing it, I was not particularly concerned with this. I wrote the book, Making Finn, for my children. And I still hope that one day when they’re old enough they’ll read it and not just turn around and say, “Ah, mom. Do we have to talk about all that stuff again!”

Time to write

I would love to say that I’m a full-time writer, but I’m not. I write when I can. Sometimes on a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg on my way to a client meeting; more often standing at the kitchen counter waiting for the chicken to cook, in between rescuing my toddler from the back of the couch and yelling at my older son to Go Bath! Aren’t laptops wonderful things? Sometimes I write after everyone has gone to sleep and like a good book you can’t put down, I stay up too late and am shattered in the morning.

Of course, there are periods where I don’t write at all, when I’m simply too busy at work or doing kiddie stuff and life speeds by and I realise it’s been three months since I wrote one word.

I always intend to write when I’m on holiday. I picture myself finally able to sit in my study (now that I have one), glancing up wistfully at a framed portrait of Virginia Woolf hanging above my desk, and churning out an entire novel like a real writer. But this does not happen. Instead my days are filled with trips to the fire station or aquarium or by watching my eldest son doing laps around the pool with his newly acquired doggy paddle skills.

So I write in between my other jobs: looking after my two active boys and working for a deadline-driven magazine publishing company. And this is how I wrote Making Finn.

I am trying to have my cake and eat it.