I’ve spent the past few weeks doing the unthinkable: scrubbing unwanted birthmarks, surgically altering dangling participles and mutated paragraphs off my newborn. Manuscript, that is. But it feels every bit as painful as though it were one of my children that is running circles around me, hanging out underneath my elbows even as I type.
Its inception was 7 years ago as I spoke at a conference and heard so many stories about this issue. I wanted to reach them with fiction.
Its conception began a year later. But starting actual labor was harder; I much preferred the slow incubation and the relative safety of my baby being hidden from other eyes. I tolerated the creeping pace of false of labor and welcomed the wussy labor pains, preferring to box the baby back up and allow it to grow some more until the mood struck/it was convenient to write/I was having a good hair day.
And then my book club/accountability girls decided it was time for Pitocin. “Let’s speed this thing up,” they chorused. “You’ve written other books and had them published. Get on it!”
“But those were non-fiction,” I protested. “I don’t know if I can share this one.”
Ignoring me, they chose my novel as the November book, thereby forcing me to have it completed by October 30th.
They loved it. It was inexpressibly joyful to have actual readers discussing opinions and for me to be able to explain my thoughts. “That surprised me, too!” And it did. Sometimes my characters took over.
Then my baby went to the NICU with Sarah Joy Freese. She was so gracious in her admiration. No plot problems or character problems, a rarity in a first-born. BUT…there were changes to tweak, tighten and thrill. Some things had to go the land of the unwritten for the sake of pacing.
That’s a lot of pressure for someone who’s not yet been out of the isolette! But I’m learning this process of birthing a different sort of baby. When the changes are completed, it will go from the nurturing NICU into the hands of the ruthless publishers.
And instead of a decent score on the Apgar scale, I’d settle for naming it “Published.” The last name could be, “Best Seller.”
How is your baby doing?