Birthing a Novel

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God. ~ Sidney Sheldon

I like Mr. Sheldon’s statement, but please believe me; I’m NOT comparing myself to God. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the whole idea of creating something out of nothing I’m referring to. Unlike God, who really did start with nothing, I, at least, have my “story seeds” to begin with. What’s a story seed, you ask? It’s my term for anything that strikes a spark in my imagination. Something I can plant in my brain, water with creative juices and allow to grow. They can come from anywhere…a newspaper article, a road name, a person, a scene, a photograph.

Maybe it would better to compare writing a novel to being pregnant. Instead of an egg, it takes a story seed. Instead of nine months, it takes untold hours (months? years?!) of “butt in the chair and WRITE!” time. Both create life where there was none. Of course, there might be some heartbreaking “miscarriages” along the way, but in that case, I heal, grow, and move forward, trying again.

Just like a mother, I’m preoccupied with this “life” I’m growing. Wondering if it’s developing as it should, questioning and second-guessing, anxiously waiting for the day it’s complete and ready to be born. The joy and elation that comes from creating life is heady stuff.

Then reality hits. A newborn is a lot of work. So is a first draft. Sleepless nights, endless attention, cleaning up all kinds of “crap.” Some parts might have to be “circumcised.” Sometimes it takes a shot in the arm or leg. Certainly, there are trips to the doctor (editor) and necessary medicine (re-writes) prescribed. I walk around in a daze, unsure what to do next. Sometimes depression strikes. I question my ability as a mother (an author). I listen to some solicited, and a lot of unsolicited advice. I worry about how this child (book) will turn out. The process is both exhausting and exhilarating.

It doesn’t get any easier with subsequent children. Things I learned with one might be totally useless with the next one. Every child is different. I can’t allow myself to get so wrapped up with one that I’m unable to move on and love the next. It’s the same with writing books. That’s the struggle I’m having right now. It’s the same battle I face every time I complete one book and start a new one. I know the story will eventually flow, but right now, a blank computer screen is scary stuff. I guess I’m suffering from a sort of “empty nest syndrome.” Luckily, I know just how to cure it…WRITE!