Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What to expect when you're having a book

by Sandra Parshall

Having a book is a life-changing event that no one should approach lightly, but it will be an easier and more joyous experience if you know what to expect every step of the way. Here, in condensed form, are a few pointers that I hope will be helpful.


You are madly, passionately in love with The Idea. It consumes you, heart and soul, mind and body. You want to set up housekeeping with The Idea and share every second of every day with it.

Together the two of you are going to make a baby more beautiful and brilliant than any the world has ever seen.

First Trimester

 It’s real. At the moment it is little more than a blob on the screen, but you feel it growing, blooming, becoming something substantial that will change your life forever.

Yes, you have those queasy mornings when the niggling doubts creep in as you face the day, and those middle of the night, staring at the ceiling moments when a voice in your head whispers: What the heck am I doing? I can’t handle this! I’m going to fail, I’m going to produce a baby so ugly that people will avert their eyes and ask each other how it’s possible that such a hideous creature has been inflicted on the world.

But most of the time you’re still excited, filled with anticipation. You start a list of possible names and dismiss with a weak smile the dreadful monikers suggested by family and friends. Your baby must have a special name, evocative and memorable.

Second Tri-mester

Of course you still love your baby. But now and then you don’t like it. The first kick was fun. Those that have followed, not so much. You don’t enjoy lying awake at night, worrying, while the baby acts up. You despair of finding a way to make it settle down.

And it’s getting bigger and bigger. Huge. Gigantic. Enormous. It’s not supposed to be this big, is it? But what can you do about it now?

The baby has taken over your life. You can’t think of anything else. But this is what you wanted, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?

Third Tri-mester

WILL THIS NEVER END?? You don’t care anymore what the blasted baby looks like. You don’t care whether anyone will love it. You’re not even sure you will love it. Just please, dear God in heaven, let this be over soon.


Oh, the agony, the wrench of separation. Your baby is no longer a part of you. It’s out in the world now, where any idiot is free to take a look and pronounce it the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen. You can glory in the compliments but you can’t shield your baby from the snarky comments and you can’t force indifferent people to pay attention to it. Your baby, like each of us, is alone in the world and will stand or fall on its own merits.

Whether weeping or smiling, you must turn away, point yourself forward... toward the next Idea that’s waiting to seduce you.

My new baby, named Bleeding Through, is due in September.


Patricia Gligor said...

Sandra, What a fantastic post! I laughed out loud!
I wrote a post about a month ago called "Creating Characters" and the first sentence was "The process of creating a character is like conceiving, carrying and giving birth to a baby who will, no doubt, have Mom's nose or Grandpa's ears."

Sandra Parshall said...

And isn't it painful to see/hear your beloved characters criticized? OTOH, it's wonderful to hear readers talk about them as if they were good friends -- and I've been fortunate enough to have many readers who feel that way about Rachel and Tom.

Leslie Budewitz said...

And then they go out and have their own lives, and belong to other people, and don't call home nearly as often as you'd like. ...

Sandra Parshall said...

I always wonder what's happened to characters in discontinued series. Where are they now? What are they up to?


This is so incredibly true. Every word.

Gigi Pandian said...

Thanks for the good laugh over coffee this morning. I'm about to let my first out into the world... an exciting and scary time!

Kaye George said...

Great description! I'll add that the process can take from 9 months to 10 years, and the trimester steps can be repeated over and over and over and....

Thanks for such an ingenious metaphor, Sandy!

Sandra Parshall said...

A tri-mester can sometimes last three years rather than three months. :-)

Kaye George said...

That's a better way of putting it, Sandy!