For Tuesday, February 23, 2016:
“Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.”
Norman Mailer – The NY Times Book Review, 9-17-65
In the wee small hours of this morning, as I tried to fall back asleep after letting the dog out and back in, I started to draft in my head the end pages of my current novel-in-progress. In my process, that means this particular baby’s almost at term.
Men aren’t the only ones who can relate to Mailer’s quote above. I have no children of my own, so I don’t know firsthand all that other women experience. I do know, however, the joys and the trials of birthing books and stories and articles. In addition, my first novel took about 20 years from start to finish, so I think I might be able to claim a gestation period that stands out a bit from the norm.
I think, too, that most writers, male or female, have some form of the equivalent of a pregnant woman’s Lamaze exercise classes. I’ve written about some of mine in earlier posts.
As of today, this current novel has been in active process for just about a year. The first germ of the idea was planted several months before I began to write, except for an occasional note about something I wanted to be sure to include in the story. Once I started the active writing process, it took a little over ten months to complete the first draft. After my first novel, I was rather proud of that!
Once the first draft was completed, I sent it to my two beta readers and let the story gestate again while I waited for their comments and suggestions. After I received my readers’ feedback, I started the revisions for the second draft. As of today I’m about two-thirds of the way through the third draft, making more tweaks and edits as I go along.
When I finish the third draft, I’ll send it back to my readers for more feedback. That means, then, my drafting brain is already starting to move on to the final touches, the ‘thank yous’, the acknowledgements, the author page.
Now that there’s a little light at the end of this book canal (there could always be a fourth draft, I keep reminding myself), I find myself going ahead to the already-planned and already-started second book in what I hope will be an occasional series, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Neither do I want to get bogged down. I’ve started the sequel to my first novel several times and go back to it only because the characters keep calling me to. It will happen at some point, I hope. I think I may have needed this less-strenuous experience under my belt to show me that not all book births take 20 years. Apparently I have strengthened the creative muscles enough to approach at least one sequel without fear and trepidation. Maybe even two.
But, as excited as I am about the impending birth of this novel, first I have to breathe. I have to finish this one before any others. And I have to rest, and I have to breathe again.
Then, and only then, will I be able to send out announcements.