SHAREN FORD ON: GIVING BIRTH
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about giving birth. (Here’s where I read your mind, dear reader. Hmm, you’re saying to yourself, isn’t she a little, uh, mature for that? You’re a very polite person, I know). But before you come to the conclusion that I’m delusional, please let me explain myself.
For one thing, the concept of giving birth was the inspiration for the name of this blog. The analogy between the length of time and the pain involved in making a baby and producing a finished novel struck my fellow writers and I, all of us women, as particularly apt. Speaking personally, it’s been my experience that both endeavors involve sweat and tears, if not necessarily blood.
Since there are five of us and we have the luxury of taking turns, writing for this blog is a much less arduous task than “birthing” a novel, but it does keep us all thinking regularly about the process. And now that I’ve begun work on my second novel, the act of giving birth—both literally and figuratively—is on my mind even more.
In my work-in-progress, an unmarried daughter’s pregnancy exposes the secrets and lies that have helped to conceal her mother’s own illegitimate birth. When the identity of her real grandparents is revealed, the daughter is left with many questions, among them: why had her mother been so determined to deny the truth about her parentage that she would lie to her own daughter? As she finally uncovers the answer, the daughter comes to accept her mother’s belief that giving birth and being a parent are two very different things.
For me, it’s not too much of a stretch to apply that same credo to the creation of a novel. With the joyful completion of the first draft, the “baby” can be said to have been born. But, no matter how beautiful it may be in her eyes, the writer soon realizes that first incarnation will require a lot of nurturing and grooming before it’s ready to go out into the world. Inevitably, there will be numerous revisions before a book is strong and accomplished enough to venture into the competitive publishing marketplace.
And, just as with a child, the parent/writer inevitably loses sleep over how her offspring will turn out.