Birthing a Novel

They say writing a novel is like giving birth.  I don’t think that’s quite right.  Writing a novel is like being pregnant; having it published is like giving birth.

When the idea for a new novel first strikes us, it is exciting.  We are passionate about it, and our whole attention is focused on it.  Then it begins to germinate.  Deep inside us, it grows, gradually taking on its full form.  It is private, our secret.  People can see something  is happening, but we can’t really share it – yet.  The process is wonderful, but it isn’t all ice cream and chocolates (although we tend to eat too much of both in our preoccupation) – we have our moments of indigestion (plot twists that just won’t work) and constipation (writer’s block).  But all through the long months of creativity, we know that we are participating in a mystery, and we smile to ourselves in our specialness, sure of our progeny’s proud destiny.

Publishing brings on the labor pains.   The editor is our well-trained OB/Gyn, their obstetretical implements grammar books, thesauruses and style manuals, and they go at us with fervor.  Our pregnancy is no longer ours alone, to hug to ourselves and shower with devotion.  No.  We are coached, directed, corrected, as this miracle of ours, that we made,  makes its mewling way into the outside world, into the receiving hands of the doctor, to be cleaned and dressed by professionals and made ready for presentation in the public eye.  It is returned to us, a being now separate from ourselves, but we gaze on it with a kind of awe and devotion.  A real book.   There it is.  We can hold it in our hands.  It is ours now to foster into that destiny we know it’s meant to fulfill.

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