Expectant women wail, “I just want this baby to be BORN! I want this pregnancy to be over with!”
Authors whinge about the “labor pains of birthing” their books.
It’s an apt analogy, I think.
My book, Meeting in the Margins: An Invitation to Encounter Society’s Invisible People, has had a very long gestation period. Longer than that of a giraffe (15 months) or a whale (18 months), longer than that of an elephant (21.3 months). It has had several iterations, many titles, many outlines and tables of contents, and rejections from publishers who wisely recognized the work as not yet ready to be birthed.
Through all these months/years, the work and discomfort and angst have given the book itself time to develop into what it was meant to be all along.
The true voice of the book finally caught my ear about four years ago. Perhaps it had been speaking to me for longer than that, but I was certain I knew better than it did, and was not ready yet to relinquish my self-cleverness, wouldn’t concede that some difficult things DID need to be written and other cherished things DID need to be deleted.
I can remember the day on which I heard the book speak to me, in an internal dialect that I somehow finally understood. I had been challenged by a copyeditor who said to me, “I don’t believe your response to this incident. SHOW me how it’s possible to feel the way you SAY you felt.”
I hated her in the moment. But I was also paying her for her professional perceptions, so I went back to the vignette that I had been certain was “finished, polished, done and dusted.” I sat grudgingly with it, wondering what in hell else I could possibly do to what I had already spent months perfecting.
That’s when I heard the book speak to me, saying, “Go to your belly. Remember there. Listen there. Bring THOSE words to the page.”
And that’s when the embryo of my intended book first quickened within me.
Fast forward through months of listening to the voice of the book, of letting go to the wisdom of its development, of finding a publisher and entering into yet another new kind of dialogue. Hold down the fast-forward button to a couple of weeks ago when my publisher and I finally agreed on the title, the subtitle, the cover image and the cover design (a process that in itself took about three months). Then into my inbox came the literary equivalent of a sonogram of my yet-to-be-born book.
Like any proud almost parent author, I’m carrying the image around in my pocket, showing it to everyone I meet, and I wanted to share it with you as well.
Take a look at my beautiful in utero baby! She’s due to be born in October of 2015. Trust me, I’ll be sending out birth announcements.