Monday, May 16, 2011

Birth of a Novel

We've been anxiously awaiting the birth of our first grandson this past week. My daughter-in-law tried to go into labor early a few weeks ago, and thanks to modern medicine, her doctor was able to stifle that process. Now we're close enough to the due date, they've decided it's okay for her to have the baby. However, our grandson seems to have other plans. =) He appears to be somewhat hesitant to make an appearance in mortal mode. And so we wait.

From time to time, I've heard the writing process compared to giving birth. Writers suffer through months of creating a storyline, doing research, and enduring countless revisions until they're convinced their work of art is ready to face the world. And yet, it isn't. We farm out copies of our precious manuscripts to lucky family members or friends for a sneak peak. Sometimes we do this with a writers' group. This is how we learn that our creation still has glitches. So we spend more time polishing and revising until we're certain it's time for a public appearance.

However, when we've reached this point in the writing process, our novel is far from being a finished product. The manuscript is sent to a publishing company, and most times our creative brilliance is handed over to professional readers. These are the people who decide if our tomes deserve a thumbs up or down.

If it's thumbs down, we either tackle this same project again, or scrap it and start over. Writers are usually of one of two mindsets: after living with this novel for numerous months we're sick to death of it and want to try something new, or we love it so much, we're willing to endure a complete overhaul to shape this work into something more appealing to the masses.

Once we receive a hearty thumbs up we begin the editing process in earnest. This can often take months as writers and editors strive to come to a shared vision of what this book can be. Then there's the adventure of selecting a title both can live with, a cover that will draw attention, and last minute tweaking until all are convinced it's time for the book to be released into the world.

And so a new book is born, and we hover over it, trying to make sure it is all it needs to be. We study the cover, caress the pages to make sure they're in order, and cautiously expose it to others, hoping they will treat it with the same loving care we have given it.

Sometimes this entire process is so painful, we need a bit of time before starting the next endeavor. But eventually most of us jump in again, determined to tackle another creation that will go forth into the world, making a bit of difference here and there.

Is it worth the effort? When the countless, sleepless hours are tallied, and the ordeal of editing and revision take their toll, will we look back with fondness? That is up to each individual author to decide. The number of books available in today's world would indicate it is a popular choice.

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