After a two-year pregnancy I gave birth to a book.
Well, that’s what it felt like.
As in biology, pinpointing the moment of conception was difficult. It may have been the Berkshire Writers Room workshop where the facilitator, Sharon Mack, brought out two wicker bowls containing tiny folded slips of paper. One bowl contained characters’ names, the other possible titles for stories. We were instructed to select one of each. When I unfolded my choices and read “Fox Monroe” and “Whispers in the Night,” I saw Fox in my mind and had the outlines of his story. It was an awesome case of inspiration.
The short story almost wrote itself. I was content with it, and stored it away as I had done with other stories. But when I showed it to friends and relatives, they persuaded me that I should expand it, fashion a novella. It started to grow. Was that when its life began? So I rewrote it. And I was content with that, too. It sat for three years.
Then I joined the Coral Spring Writers Group. Those talented women, Betty Housey, Cathy Kennedy, Laurianne MacDonald, Roxanne Smolen and Zelda Beck, talked me into turning it into a novel. When Greta Silver joined us later, she added her voice to the clamor.
So I embarked on the gargantuan task of writing a book. Had I known. . . Nah, I would have done it anyway.
Learning to “spread out” into novel form was difficult. I was used to writing short stories, to being compact. (It was the only time in my life when “getting larger” was difficult!) I persevered. I wrote the first chapter and presented it to the group. Perhaps there is where the zygote of imagination started to grow.
They tore it apart. Constructively, of course. They offered advice on making minor characters more believable, writing seamless narrative, being more aware of repetitive words or phrases. The advice was invaluable.
After about a year and a half, I put the final period on the last chapter. Finished! Yeah, sure.
The rewriting started. Sometimes entire chapters were discarded and reworked, while at other times it was just a matter of changing words. Characters were added or deleted, dialogue revamped. It was harder than the original writing had been.
I began to contact literary agents and publishers. They were all very polite, most were encouraging, but all sent the same message. “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I found iUniverse, a “vanity publishing” company. That meant I paid them to publish my book. I must say, I enjoyed working with them. Their representatives were professional and helpful, and I believe their suggestions made the book stronger. This collaboration continued for two months, from editorial evaluation to preparation of a press release. (A press release! I never imagined.)
And now my creation is on its own, brought bawling and protesting into the world. I worry about Fox, as any mother would. How will he fare in this unsheltered environment? What if (as Hagrid said about Norbert) the other kids are mean to him?
What if the critics don’t like him?
Whatever the result, he’s out there, on his own. I’ve sent him skipping gaily off to meet and mingle with other works. He’s his own person.
I don’t regret a second of it.