Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Giving Birth to Babies and Books

The last days before labor are something only a woman who has been there can understand. That time is all about the Mystery of Creation.

The woman you were is about to die. The childless woman is about to become a mother. The already-mother is about to become the mother-of-one-more. There is no chickening out. No, "Oh, never mind. Let's not do this." The last days before labor are a time of preparation, anxiety and, even, fear.

They are also days of anticipation, expectation and hope. A love is born that somehow always existed but is fresh and new. A love for this one, that in no way diminishing the love for all the others, but it focuses all its attention on this special one, right now.

The moment before Creation is a time of hopeful waiting.

For me the time immediately before embarking on a new writing project is similar. The planning, outlining, world-building and character-sketching is finished. It is time to face the blank page and weave a Story. As with parenting, an author can't protect her characters (at least not if she wants them to grow). She has to let them suffer through whatever obstacles life in their world throws at them. That happens at huge personal cost for mother-and-child as well as author-and-character.

Tomorrow I'll start writing my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. Between now and then, I'll begin to draw energy into myself, play the "what if" game in my head over a thousand alternate scenarios and fret about whether or not I'm on the right track or even if up to the task at all. I worry if I even have any more stories left to tell, after all I have written in recent years. I worry about a thousand and one things from whether my computer will die in the middle of the process to whether or not my writing just totally sucks and I am kidding myself in undertaking this entire exercise and why I don't just get real and go live in the grown-up world ...

I'll probably worry about some other things as well, but you get the idea.

After 20 years of motherhood, I still have the same fears and anxieties about my inadequacy for the job. I'm guessing that no matter how many years I spend writing, I will continue to experience the same panic at the beginning of every project.

Something to look forward to.

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