Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pregnant Pause

Let me start by saying: NO. I'm not pregnant, nor will I ever be again. (I know my cousins will ask me if they see this title.) But, as a mother of four, I have a plethora of experience with pregnancy. It's a lot like writing a book.

When you first become ripe with an idea, it's exciting. It's a little worrisome too. Should I tell anyone about it? Will it turn out okay? What if it doesn't work out?

Then the story grows. And it's a wonderful feeling. You can feel it becoming it's own little entity... nowhere near being ready for the world but it's there. It's a real story. It's a little tiring, getting it all together, but it's exciting. And you start to tell people, "I have a first draft!"

Soon, it's showing. People are noticing. You share with friends and they comment on this baby's shape. As it gets bigger, and more mature, those comments start to get a little irritating. But you keep working on it, nurturing it and helping it grow and develop.

There comes a point where it gets tiresome. This baby has grown so much already and you know it's not fully grown but you wish SO MUCH that it was, so you could be done with it and enjoying it and passing it around for others to hold. So you do your best to nurture some more, stay positive, know that everything will be alright, hope that everything will be alright...

Then there's the end--the birthing process--the part where you want to push it out and it just won't go. The incredibly painful part of finding someone to help you get it out into the world, because you can't do it on your own. It's a labor-intensive time, pardon the pun. A time that you dread and look forward to at the same time.

So I'm in the third trimester of my story. This sucker is ripe. It's grown to a nice size. I'm tired of it, but it's not ready to go out yet. I know there's still some growing and nurturing to be done, but I don't have any more energy to give to this story right now. I just want it to be over with, done, finished. I want to share it with the world. But it's not ready!

This is the difference between pregnancy and writing a book: I could be pregnant with this book forever. Real pregnancy has a nice time frame--nine months, give or take a few weeks, and you're done, one way or the other. But not this. I've been working on this book for eight months already, begging my friends/classmates/former teachers/the guy walking down the street to read it for me, tell me what's wrong with it, tell me how to finish it. Some kind souls have given me great direction already. (Thanks, friends, for listening to me whine about the discomforts of this pregnancy.) I am so grateful to have honest, enthusiastic critics who will share this story with me. But, much like my second son, it doesn't want to come out. It's just not ready.

The advantage that writing has over being 'with child': you have the option, at any time, of putting your book on hold. You can't do that with a baby. You can't put this baby aside to work on growing another one for a little while, and come back to it at a time that's more convenient to you. With a book, you can take a break. Pause. Gather your energies. Tickle your muse. With a book, you set the pace and deliver it when you feel you're ready.

My youngest will turn six in a few weeks. I remember that pregnancy well! That little girl sent me into a panic by threatening to come out too soon. I had been feeling large and awkward, I was looking forward to having this baby and not being pregnant any more, and then yowza! Preterm labor was a wake-up call that we weren't as ready as we thought. She needed more time. I needed more time. I could wait a little while longer, I really could. (She ended up holding out until 37 weeks and was 8 pounds 10 ounces. I was glad she didn't go to 40 weeks!)

So, I've had a nice pause with this story. I took time off, and then I revved up again and did more revisions. I'm getting near the end, I know it. I still have to pour more time and energy into making this story complete. But I don't want to be pregnant with this story forever. So, I'm going to set a due date for myself, and see if I can deliver it by then. It'll be painful, but the baby at the end will be worth it. (I hope!)


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