In this blog, I share how my journey as a childless, not by choice woman infuses my novel writing and excerpts from my debut novel, The Weight of a Woman. Enjoy.
—Excerpt from The Weight of a Woman—
“She feels no emotional charge entering her name, address, phone number or Medicare card. However, in entering her age, 39, her relationship status, single, number of dependents, zero, a feeling of dejection washes over her. She’s nearly forty and still single, with no prospects of children anytime soon, maybe never.”
When I wrote my first novel, The Weight of a Woman, I had no intention of presenting childlessness. It was the story of a woman holding herself back from living out her dreams until she lost weight. I wrote it as a fictional version of my self-help book, Joyful Eating: How to Break Free of Diets and Make Peace with Your Body.
Yet as a childless, not by choice woman, I can’t help but bring my childlessness into my writing, as it is something I continue to process for myself.
—Excerpt from The Weight of a Woman—
“On her way from work to the train station, Jenni notices a familiar figure on the opposite side of the road. He waves. Oh fuck, she thinks, unable to now pretend she hasn’t seen him. It is Paul… and he is… pushing a pram. What the hell, Jenni thinks, as she stands motionless, watching Paul cross at the crosswalk and make his way over to her.
‘Hi, Jenni,’ he says with the pram between them, preventing any need for an obligatory hug.
‘Hi, Paul.’ Jenni nods toward the baby. ‘So… so you and Shelly…?’ She is unable to release the remainder of the words she wants to say.
‘Yes,’ Paul beams, ‘can you believe it? We’ve now had a baby and, and… we’re engaged to be married this summer.’ Paul can barely contain himself as Jenni attempts to find the words to express her… whatever the emotion is she’s feeling.
She is dumbfounded. She shakes her head and puts on a brave face. ‘Wow, Paul. That’s… incredible… uh, fantastic. Congratulations. You look so happy… congratulations.’
‘Thanks, Jenni. I’m happier than you could ever believe. I never knew how much I wanted to be a father. I’m over the moon in love with this little one,’ he says, bending down to rub the baby’s chubby cheeks.
‘Great,’ Jenni says half-heartedly as she attempts to shake the constriction in her chest.
He looks up at her. ‘And you? How are you?’
‘Oh, great, couldn’t be better,’ she says on autopilot.
Paul doesn’t seem to notice her unenthusiastic response, as he is clearly enthralled with his little cherub. He then straightens up. ‘I’m really pleased,’ he says sincerely, looking her directly in the eye, ‘I hope you’ve gotten everything you wanted?’
‘Uh-huh,’ she responds, ‘I’ve really got to get going, or I’ll miss my train.’ She takes a step backward, away from him and the baby.
‘No worries, Jenni. It was lovely to see you.’ He bends forward as if to kiss her and then pulls back, giving her a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. ‘All the best, Jen.’
‘You… you too,’ she says, turning and making her way into the tunnel entrance to the train station.
He’s got a fucking baby, she thinks. He’s so fucking happy. She struggles to hold back the tears as the thoughts whirl around her brain. She makes her way through the tunnel, head down, wondering where she’d gone wrong. She no longer has feelings for Paul, but their relationship hadn’t been bad. He’d loved her. It was her… her that was broken—her and her fucking body. Fuck, who am I kidding? she thinks as she contemplates what chance she has of losing this weight.
‘Watch it, lady,’ a voice snaps at her as she’s blocked a group of teenage boys coming down the stairs. She steps to the side, head down and doesn’t say a word.
Oh, she’s been watching it—her weight, that is—for as long as she can remember and this is where it had got her: single, fat and approaching forty. What is the point of these diets? she wonders. They don’t work; they never had. She is so far from her goal weight. So far from the life she dreamed of living—the life she’d thought Paul and her weight had been holding her back from.”
The Weight of a Woman
— A Novel —
A relatable, heartfelt and uplifting novel for all women who have felt discontent in their bodies.
Writing our childlessness journey into a novel
On rereading The Weight of a Woman, it became evident to me that childlessness inadvertently is a theme in the novel, which gave me the opportunity to continue that theme in the sequel. The sequel novel, The Tears of a Woman, weaves our own journey of being childless, not by choice, into the story.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I would do this.
Jenni was single and approaching 40 in The Weight of a Woman. How could it be that she is in a relationship where she is trying to start a family?
It then dawned on me that when I met my husband, it was only months later that we decided we wanted to start a family together; and began what would be an eight-year journey of trying to conceive and then adopt children with empty hands at the finish line.
Although I had the idea to weave our own journey into the sequel novel, I initially resisted because it was so personal, and the emotions, even fifteen years later, were still raw, especially as I had to dig deep and bring them back to life on the page. Also, I didn’t know how much I wanted to share, nor did I want it to be a personal account of our journey.
However, once the writing began, it happened fast, and the story took shape effortlessly. What I share is based on what I remember, but more so, how the journey felt at the time.
The Tears of a Woman
Many tears were shed in writing The Tears of a Woman.
Yet when completed, I knew it was a story I wanted to share.
I believe it is a story that will not only resonate with childless women, but help others understand the tumultuous and heartbreaking journey of being childless, not by choice.
I can’t wait to share the novel with you.
The Tears of a Woman
— A Novel —
The story of a woman’s emotional struggle to become a mother while navigating weight bias and self-doubt.
The Tears of a Woman is the sequel to The Weight of a Woman, although it is enjoyable as a standalone read.
Let’s stay in touch
I’d love to hear if you resonate with this blog or the excerpts from The Weight of a Woman. Let me know in the comments below.
I also invite you to read my other blogs on childlessness:
- Living a meaningful life without children, where I share how to reorientate ourselves to create a meaningful life when we’ve been unable to have children.
- MyOtherhood: accepting childlessness by consequence, not choice, where I share my journey to accepting my childlessness, which was not by choice.
The Tears of a Woman will be released on March 28th 2023 and is already available for pre-order on some online retailers, such as Amazon.