Any day now I’ll release a suspense novel titled An Uncertain Refuge.
Because it seems that this book is a lot like a baby, I’ve been thinking about the process of writing and comparing it to pregnancy.
But before I blog further, let me make it clear that I’ve never given birth, so the comparisons I’ll make here are based on guesswork and extrapolation from the information—sometimes WAY TOO MUCH information—that friends and relatives have shared. If I miss the mark, please leave a comment below and set me straight.
Like a pregnancy begins when a speedy and determined sperm collides with an egg primed for fertilization, a book begins when a tiny idea that won’t be denied discovers a warm and nurturing niche in the brain.
Immediately, the idea explodes in all directions, creating a wave of euphoria. I dream about its future. I dream it will be popular, maybe even win a prize. People will talk about it, be unable to forgot the chapter where the protagonist . . .
Well, you all know how dreams go, right?
Then, like morning sickness, I’m seized with bouts of cold and queasy doubt. I consider the long months ahead when ever-expanding plotlines will grow fat with scenes and characters and I feel already weary with the strain of carrying them all to the conclusion. I dread the days when the characters will feed on me, sapping the brainpower I need for other tasks. And I cringe at the thought of the logic holes that won’t seem to knit closed, and the sleepless midnight hours when I’ll wish I never allowed that tiny idea inside my skull.
And I worry about whether the original idea will prove to be strong enough to become a fully developed story with a clear theme supported by plot, with characters that feel human, and a setting that seems real.
Serene Acceptance/Attitude Adjustment
At some point in all of my novels, the characters take control and it seems they need only my fingers on the keyboard to grow. At this point, I no longer worry about whether I’ll be able to carry this book to term. Instead, I worry about what will happen after complete it.
Delaying the Due Date
I spend days revising and re-revising, tweaking and over-thinking that first paragraph. As long as I hold onto the story, no one will see it, no one will criticize it, or give it a no-star review. No one will say the kinds of things I blurt in desperation when someone thrusts a homely baby at me. Things like, “Well, he certainly won’t have problems hearing.” Or, “She certainly has hair.” Or, “Plenty of room for teeth in that mouth.”
On the other hand, if I don’t let go, no one will ever say anything positive, either.
So, I dither, worrying about this book being out there on its own.
Then I remember that my mother once told me the mark of success as a mother was that your children were eager to leave home and be on their own, not because they didn’t like it there, but because they were prepared and ready for that next step.
Whether I’m ready or not, this book is. So I’m taking a deep breath and pushing it down the publishing chute.
Like labor itself that will take a little time, a lot of effort, and some professional assistance.
Watch this space for an announcement of the birth of An Uncertain Refuge