No, we’re not having another baby. It does, however, feel a bit like I just did.
My newest novel, “Three of Eva” (formerly titled, “See How They Run”), was delivered to agents today. Four of them received my newborn today (they’d all formerly agreed to read the full manuscript), many more will receive queries over the following weeks.
Let me just say that writing a book is not for sissies. After months of dealing with questions such as, “Who am I to write a book?” to “Who in the hell will ever read this book?” to “How many bottles of wine is too many to consume in a 7-day stretch?” to “Where is my blankie?”, I finally had to give birth. And trust me when I say that handing over your book is like handing over your baby… in many, many ways.
I’ve grown so close to Catherine, Anne, and Jessica. I’ve learned to simultaneously love and loathe them, have learned a great deal about myself and others in their creation. It feels almost dangerous in a way to release them to The Universe. Will anyone care for them as much as I do? Will they be judged? Criticized? Faulted for their crazy life decisions?
And strangely enough, I want those questions all to be answered with a resounding, “Yes!” That, after all, is the purpose of fiction — to reawaken senses, to create community and conversation, to entertain and enlighten.
I was named a 2011 Midwest Writers Fellow for the first few chapters of this book. And there’s one lesson I learned that weekend that has stuck with me throughout this process. The fabulous Holly Miller said during a small group meeting that we all had to determine whether our purpose was to “change somebody’s life or change somebody’s day” — that either was okay, we just had to determine which was our goal.
I thought long and hard about Holly’s challenge and decided that I aspire to be a day-changer. That is what fiction has always done for me — that is what I want to offer up to the rest of the world. And I think it’s a noble goal. Because in changing someone’s day, you can ultimately change a life. If I make one person see something differently or question a firmly-held belief, or create a dialogue that she normally wouldn’t have engaged in, then I’ve done my job. If I make someone laugh or cry or reflect, then I have done my job. If someone sits down with a hot cup of tea and a dog curled around her feet and finds refuge in my words, then I have done my job.
It’s a good job. I am blessed to have it.