Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pregnant and Waiting

by Normandie Fischer

Pregnancy is blessed, but there comes a time when a pregnant woman longs for the actual birth.

The last weeks of pregnancy compress the body and the soul. The mother’s womb has nurtured and cocooned her infant for almost nine months. She feels fat. Her contractions remain unfruitful, and there's often fear—for her baby and for herself. Some women—many women—fear failure and worry that all the work and all the waiting and all the preparation will be for naught. Because what if she fails?

Maybe we wrote it first on a manual typewriter, and it's still not a book!

We feel that way about our stories sometimes, don’t we?

Writers commiserate with one another. We talk about how long the process takes: the imagining, the writing, the polishing, and all that rewriting. The gestation period spans months or years, sometimes even decades. Our book baby’s pregnancy appears interminable. 

Our manuscript sits there, waiting, and fear settles on us. What if all our effort ends in something execrable, something even we as parents hate? What if our precious creation reads like nothing more than dribble, words without meaning, without substance? What if, after all, we’ve wasted all that energy, all those years? What if we fail?

All we want is for everyone to love our words.

On the other hand, what if we've convinced ourselves our work is the most beautiful compilation of words ever created? And what if—and we’ve all heard the horror stories—this masterpiece that came from our very being never finds a publisher?  Or what if our self-published work never finds readers? What if we fail?

To my delight, my daughter wants me at her side during her birthing experiences. As a second child and already larger than Little E, Finn seemed destined to arrive early, which prompted the doctor to suggest I hightail it north before Winter Storm Jonah paralyzed the city. I prepared to leave just as the airports began to shut down, which initiated Plan B. I caught one of the last trains to make it to NYC as the storm speared its way into Virginia, DC, and Pennsylvania, heading north. The next day, New York shut down under a blanket of white. Finn stayed tucked inside, and my daughter waited.

Sometimes our plans for the fast track to publishing fail, and we’re stuck with slower options. And sometimes we find the agent, hear the excitement, anticipate the delivery . . . and all we have is a waiting game.
Birthing seems to take as long as forever and be as far away as space.

The wait for Baby Finn expanded to a week. Then eight days. Nine. On the tenth, the pains strengthened, and we went to the hospital. When the command to push toward birth finally came, the effort seemed to avail little. Finn barely budged.

Sometimes we’ve progressed to the birthing room, yet our work seems stuck. Stuck in editing. Stuck in design. Stuck in a spiral that calls for patience and calm.

During my daughter’s first pregnancy, the doctor forced the labor and then the delivery, and the results weren’t pretty. She changed doctors for this next child, and the Haitian-born obstetrician filled us with confidence because of her calm and her skill. And although Finn took his time, he finally emerged, whole, happy, blessed, and his mother faced none of the complications from the rushed delivery of her daughter.

Rushing to publication is never a good idea. The process of birth takes time. Time for edits and rewrites to make our work the best it can be. Time to create a beautiful cover—which will be the initial point of contact with readers. Time for our work to mature until we’re no longer book-pregnant, but finally a book parent.

And then, of course, the focus shifts.
And we search for readers. Oh, please, let there be readers!

Normandie studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Known for her women’s fiction—Becalmed (2013), Sailing out of Darkness (2013), and Heavy Weather(2015)—she ventured into the realm of romantic suspense with the release of Two from Isaac’s House. In early 2016, a novella, From Fire into Fire, will continue the Isaac House saga. Normandie and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother.
Normandie's Website


chappydebbie said...

Great analogy. I loved this! Sharing.

Normandie Fischer said...

Thank you, Debbie! So glad you stopped by--and that you're sharing the love.

Joan said...

I know you wrote this a while ago, but I needed to read it TODAY. Thank you. It blew a breeze of calm into that frustrating limbo mode I find myself in at the moment.