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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From Conception to Birth, Or One Book’s Journey to Publication

Hey, everyone, I have to do the proud mom thing today and take my daughter for a college placement test, so I am posting an old favorite of mine (some of you might have seen it elsewhere on the Internet) for today. Hope you enjoy it, Margay

Ah, the first blush of romance. The first time you see the idea, sitting there in the corner of your mind, trying to get your attention in that inconspicuous manner these ideas sometimes adopt. You look away, convinced that there is no way this idea could possibly go anywhere. It’s just a fluke, a fling. Surely, you’ll forget it by morning. But when you look back, the idea is still there, sitting in the corner, flirting with you. So what’s a harmless little flirtation? You approach the idea cautiously, in a manner you hope is suave and sophisticated, but as you get closer, your excitement rises. Your heart begins to race. You lick your lips in anticipation. It’s even more exciting up close. So you flirt with it, spend the night with it, take it home with you. In the morning, you’re surprised that it’s still with you. After two months, you begin to believe this idea has a future. So you cultivate it, give up sleep for it, nurture it as it grows within you. Soon, what began as a nugget of an idea in your mind blossoms into a full-blown creature. It grows within you, like a fetus in a womb, becoming bigger by the month, more substantial. You can almost feel it move within you; you carry it everywhere, wherever you go, it’s there with you. All of your energy is devoted to it.

After a suitable gestation period, your little nugget of an idea, which you have affectionately begun to call “the book” while you search for the right title, is ready to make its appearance. Your months of labor are about to pay off as you prepare to deliver your book into the capable hands of the publisher who will introduce it to the world. But wait, his assistant has to help you clean it up a bit first and you are struck by the niggling thought, What if my baby’s ugly? What if I put this out there and no one likes it? But with the reassurances of your publisher, you clean the book up and send it back, maybe with a prayer or two, and you wait. Now it’s time for your baby to prove its worth.

As you can tell from my whimsical tale above, writing and publishing, to me, often mimic conception and birth. The stages of both are remarkably similar. There is the courtship period when you are first introduced to the idea that will one day take over your life. Followed by the get-to-know you period during which you decide whether or not the idea has longevity and you want to commit to it. Once you make that commitment, there is the gestation period – I think you can guess what happens here. The idea grows and grows, taking on a life of its own, convincing you that you are mad, suffering from a hormonal imbalance, or both. But in the end, it’s worth it because you deliver a rollicking, three hundred page epic that someone is bound to love – and not because they’re related to you.

So I guess you could say that Nora’s Soul is the first of my literary babies. She is almost six months old now, having made her debut in November, and growing stronger every day. Bringing her to the attention of the public is similar to the care and nurturing of an infant, requiring constant vigilance. Yet the pay off is that people are noticing her, some are cooing over her, and others even want to take her home with them. She may just be crawling now, but soon she will gain her legs and walk on her own – and I will sit back in amazement like any proud mother, thinking, Wow, I can’t believe I created that! And in the grand tradition of mothers everywhere, I will want to create another one, forgetting all of the pains and labor involved in the process. Keep your eyes open for the debut of Nora’s brother (figuratively speaking, of course), Dante. Thank you for riding along with me on this whimsical journey into my take on writing. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did.

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Kenzie Michaels said...

LOL:) When my 1st 'baby' was pubbed, I wanted to crawl into a hole and moan 'what the hell have I Done?' And surprise, surprise, people actually LIKED it:)

My second 'baby' outsold the first one in its first year, but then again, I was more confident of what I was doing!

My 3rd 'baby' made its debut yesterday and I want to shout it to the world!

Oops, did that yesterday. And got two emails asking to be removed from my email list!

Guess they're tired of hearing about it??

Carrie said...

Hey Kenzie - I know how you feel about asking to have someone removed from your list. The sad thing was, he was my uncle! He could care less that I am an author or what I am doing, nor does he care about his own brother (my father). Oh well, no love lost there.

Hey Margay - thanks for sharing this!


Sheila Deeth said...

My "baby" grew up and just came home from college. But my written babies are still just gleams in my eye - or tears sometimes.

Margay said...

Hey, everybody, thanks for indulging me in my retelling of one of my favorite articles (which I originally published on a different blog) as I took care of some business with my first real baby. It was pretty cool seeing the campus where she will be studying next year and she commemorated the visit by buying me a Dartmouth Mom tee shirt! She is such a great kid, if I don't say so myself, and we had a wonderful day together.