Or, A really long and overly personal but hopefully not too strained metaphor about childbirth and novel-writing
My husband and I are trying to conceive. We are, as he would tell his family if he were one of my Regency heroes, working diligently to produce an heir. DILIGENTLY. I am also already researching health care providers quite carefully, because I have decided I want a natural birth–no drugs, no epidural, no c-section unless I am literally on the brink of death–and that is apparently unusual enough in this day and age of birth-at-your-convenience OB practice that to make it happen in a hospital you have to go in with a sympathetic doctor, request nurses who are on board with it, and present a “birth plan” to show you know what you’re asking for. All to have a birth that happens as they did for tens of thousands of years before modern medicine gave us a 35% c-section rate, in a place where you have immediate care just in case.
I am on a list-serve of women (and a few husbands) who either advocate for or are seeking to have a natural birth in my state. It’s an eclectic mix of hippies, pagans, super-religious types, and the libertarian/skeptic type who doesn’t blindly trust the medical community (me). One of the topics that comes up every couple weeks is someone getting put on the spot, often by a medical professional, asking them to justify why they want a natural birth (because, apparently, just wanting one isn’t good enough). One of more compelling arguments seems to be lower instances of problems like low birth weight and general fussiness in babies who were born when the mother went into natural labor vs. those who were induced or scheduled a c-section. Not dealbreaking problems if you do it the other way, but, duh, of course a baby is going to be healthier if it just comes when it is ready and not before. A secondary concern is the fact that exact fetal age is unknown, and the way the age is calculated fails to account for variances in cycles. I, for example, tend to ovulate around day 18 rather than day 14–a doctor would age my baby nearly a week older than it really is–so waiting until the baby comes instead of calling it “late” and inducing at their due date also prevents premature births based solely in medical averaging instead of my particular circumstances.
Anyway. This is not a baby blog or a pregnancy blog or a life choices blog. It is my writing blog. So how the F does this relate to writing?
Well. The whole notion of “it’ll come when it comes,” when it’s natural and ready and fully formed, has kind of haunted me when it comes to my utter failure to finish any goddamned thing I’ve started writing for over a year. It’s not that I haven’t been writing as much as was realistic for my actual life (versus some fantasy where I don’t work 48-hour weeks at a day job) or that I’ve been jumping from project to project (well, not until November, and then only once). The stories just…haven’t been ready to come out.
So instead of making any more rash deadlines for myself or trying to force out an arbitrary number of “completed” projects in a certain time frame, I am just going to keep plugging away and let the stories wind up when they are ready. I am no longer counting my creative gestational period by a calendar. It takes as long as it takes, and it’s finished when it’s finished.
And just like real pregnancies and real births, I expect every novel, every novella, every short story, will have its own unique path to completion…its own time-table and its own final, messy, burst into the world, different from all the others in particulars and absolutely the same in general events and effect.
I just wish I knew where I was! Week 37? Week 41? I suppose you never know till it’s over–just like pregnancy.
It’ll happen when it happens.
Excuse me. I have to go brew ginger tea and be zen now.