A Pause Between Chapters

8 Jun

A pastor once told me that every time she sits down to write—whether for her Sunday sermon or her monthly letter to the congregation in the church newsletter—she feels as though she is having a baby. She’s not referring to the pain and agony of childbirth, though writing can be quite agonizing at times. Instead, she is speaking of the beauty of creation itself—the art of pulling together random thoughts and musing, little personal bits of herself and her beliefs, and transforming them into something inspirational that she felt confident enough to send out into the world.

As I sit here today, in a state of uncertainty and anxiety, my mind continually wanders back to her statement, and I see the truth in it. Writing is exactly like having a baby. If writing is giving birth, then editing must be the tedious but surprisingly magical experience of raising that child… correcting and tweaking, molding and sculpting, knowing when to let go or when to press on and develop that glimpse of an idea that’s not quite right but has the potential to be brilliant… all of it parallel to joys, surprises and occasional heartache of child-rearing.

And then, just when you know that child better than you know yourself, when his features and idiosyncrasies are so firmly embedded into your heart—your very soul—that you bolt upright from a dead, exhausted sleep at that intake of air before the first hint of a cry… you blink and he’s all grown up. His bags are packed and he’s out the door… and he doesn’t look back.

He has just been published… so, what do you do now?

That is the crossroads I find myself at today. My first book is published, my firstborn off to college, so to speak, and I’m suffering from a hint of the empty-nest syndrome every parent must feel at one point in their life. I long to waste my days away fretting over sales, or reading reviews from perfect strangers—people who have never met my child before, people who did not bear witness to the incremental changes in his character over time, the gentle nudges and encouragements that have sculpted him into who he is today. Will they like him? Will they be forgiving? Will they look beyond the surface, past the occasional hiccup or stutter, and take the time to truly learn his heart?

I have faith that they will.

Sitting in front of me now is my first copy of my first edition and I indulge in the lingering smile on my face, the swell in my heart, that giddy feeling of Christmas morning. This real, tangible, object is here, sitting before me, because I created it. I know there are other children at various stages of childhood—ranging from infancy to adolescence—languishing in my hard-drive, vying for their turn at a little one-on-one time with Mom so that they, too, may one day reach their full potential. And there are countless more creations formulating in my mind, currently nothing more than the first word of a first line or particular shade of steel-grey eyes that some day may become the signature feature of a man or a child, a hero or a villain. I know I’ll get to them soon, as well.

But first, for one last, self-indulgent moment, I want to sit here with a cup of coffee and listen to the quiet of the house around me, the keys on my keyboard still, while I read random lines on random pages of my first published work and reminisce.

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2 Responses to “A Pause Between Chapters”

  1. Bailey Bristol June 11, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Such a touching post! And I can well understand the problem of moving on. Can you do as well the next time? Can you do better? Will the words come? I can promise you they do. And when they begin to flow, you'll stick like glue to the keyboard.

  2. Donna Sturgeon June 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Oh I hope so! I'm anxious to get going again. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement!

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