Post-Partum Blues: Giving Birth to a Novel

Tweeting the birth of a novel

I tweeted that this morning.

I announced it on Facebook as well. I received a lot of likes, and suggestions for how I should celebrate (many of which included alcohol and/or a massage). One of my friends wrote, “Congrats! How long did it take (don’t say ‘my whole life’)? Do something nice for an old person, to please the gods.”

ME: I won’t say my whole life. The idea for this story has been years in the making, but I officially started working on it in March 2012.

HIM: Excellent, lots of wonderful things gestate in about nine months! I sometimes think it never gets better than this very moment, the afterglow of the first draft. Bathe in it like I know you will!

ME: LOL, I didn’t even connect that it was nine months, but I on twitter I said, “My novel is born.” 😛

However instead of bathing in the joy of the completed draft, I seem to be wallowing in the doubt-filled craziness of what happens next.

When I brought the infant Sarah home, I remember looking at her and thinking, “what do I do now?” She was so tiny, I thought she’d break. I didn’t have that instant bonding moment that some mother’s claim. I mean, sure I thought she was a precious miracle, but  falling in love with her took a while. Struggles with breastfeeding that led to me pumping milk every two hours, so she could be bottle fed with mother’s milk until she was able to get enough the natural way,  made me feel more like a cow than a mother. Nathan was better at diapering and bathing her, because he’d had experience with his sister who is 13 years younger than him. I thought I was on my way to being the world’s worst mother.


I felt lost in the confusion of what happens next. What do you do to give this tiny creature a healthy, loving, wonderful life? Sometimes I still ask that question, whenever I face a difficult moment of parenting or one of the new challenges come along as she gets older, smarter, and more and more independent.

But, the thing is, even with the doubts and fears that come with parenting, I know that she will go out in the world. She will be recognized for everything that makes her special–her intelligence, her kindness, her beauty, her creativity. She will, someday, become someone in her own right, and go on to do amazing things.

Close up of Sarah

When you give birth to a book, what happens next?

I have to finish the course that was associated with the beginning off this novel. My final assignment asks me to:

  • fill out a publisher (or agent) choice form
  • write a cover and a query letter
  • write a synopsis
  • My instructor also requested I send him the next chapter.

Basically, I will have created a complete submission packet, and will get feedback from someone whose been there, done that.

After that, I’ll need to edit and really make sure the manuscript is as strong as it can be before I send it out into the big, bad world.

I’m terrified. Since I’m still not 100% sure what genre this book is (although I’m pretty sure it is a New Adult novel) I don’t even know where to start looking for publishers. I’m waiting on the newest book of publishers provided by the school, in the hopes that it might contain listings for those who are embracing the New Adult genre.

Or, should I look for an agent instead? Somehow that feels right, but how do I know for sure? How do I find the person who will be willing to work with me?

Is my written child strong enough to be sent out into the dark, scary, competitive world out there?

I always get that what next sensation after finishing a project. I just wish I was better at celebrating first.

How do you feel when you’ve completed a project? What do you do to celebrate a job well done?

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Taochild
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 16:42:57

    I’ll tell you if I ever complete one. In the mean time, shut that pesky little demon in the closet (use duck tape if you have to), and be proud of what you have accomplished. You already did the hard part. Allowing a story to grow within you and giving birth to it. The rest is just fine tuning!


  2. Stuart Nager
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 16:45:50

    I am so very, very happy for you. Now get it out there to those mean old agents and make this the next movie franchise!! congrats!!


  3. Andra Watkins
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 16:55:38

    I am dancing around the room down here. So, so happy for you, Lisa!!! I can’t wait to hear what’s next.


  4. Tori Nelson
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 17:17:08

    I’m excited for you, but I can understand where the fear might creep in. Something you’ve grown accustomed to working on is finished, things are about to shift and change, and that can all seem scary. BUT scary doesn’t negate the AWESOMENESS of putting your heart into words and turning those words into a real-life book.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Dec 13, 2012 @ 20:14:00

      Thanks Tori. To be honest, I think this post had something to do with the fact that I had to go to an informational meeting about bariatric surgery this evening, even though I have no interest in getting that done. My doctor pushed me into it. I know, that probably sounds like it has no connection, but is related to the fact that everything my life is in flux at the moment, and now this has reached a point of difference.

      I’m also annoyed at the changes in WordPress today, I can’t figure it out.


  5. termitespeaker
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 17:32:09

    Well, I hate to have to say this, because it will probably discourage you, but if you’ve just finished what you call a “first draft,” you’re not finished! What you do now (or what I would do now) is go back to the beginning, read through the whole thing, catching errors, noting and fixing inconsistencies, observing weak plot points or character development and thinking, “How on earth am I going to fix this?” Restructuring chapters (this one is too long, that one is too short). Deciding this particular thing adds nothing to anything, so I’ve got to cut it out, but if I cut it, then it’s going to change this and this and this. (That’s what I wrote my post about – “Writing Is Like Jackstraws.”) Unless you’re one of those people who can write a first draft that’s perfect, I wouldn’t think you’d be ready to send it to an agent or a publisher. I know I wouldn’t be. I might go through the review-and-rewrite process three or four times.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Dec 13, 2012 @ 20:11:48

      This is not news. What you don’t know about me though, is that I am one of those writers who goes backs and edits to help herself move forward. I’ve actually had to stop myself from doing that so I could just push through the last few chapters, but even those have had one or two edits already. I’m not saying I don’t have things to fix, but I’m prepared for that. I know I’m not ready to submit yet, and I don’t plan to until I’ve gotten some feedback on my submission packet from my instructor. I also plan on doing one major overhaul before I hand it over to some readers for feedback. Then probably one more before I submit, depending on my reader’s resonses.


      • termitespeaker
        Dec 14, 2012 @ 08:55:24

        Whew, I was kind of sorry after I wrote that comment because I don’t want to crush anyone’s enthusiasm, but it sounds like what you’ve written isn’t exactly what I would call a “first draft.” Actually, that’s the way I write – a chunk of text or a chapter and then go back and re-read and make changes. By then I’ve gone stale on that chapter, so I go on to the next. Sometimes I’ll return to earlier material even before I finish. But then I do give it several revisions all the way through at the end. As for publishing, I tried querying agents in late summer and fall of 2012, and after three months I thought, I’m 71 years old and I’m going to die before i get anybody to pay attention, so that’s when I decided to self-publish. But you probably know people, like your instructor, who can get you a inside track. I didn’t. It would be very helpful to have contacts.


  6. Amy Morgan
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 17:48:10

    Congratulations in your finished first draft! Keep plugging away at the process, learning along the way, but don’t forget to stop and enjoy yourself as well!


  7. joannevalentinesimson
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 18:57:50

    Congrats, Lisa! Get lots of feedback and editorial help from anyone you can before you send it in. And don’t get discouraged if it’s turned down after you send it in – either to an agent or to an editor. I’ve heard that it takes about a hundred agent queries before one actually takes.


  8. Kathryn McCullough
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 19:31:33

    I’ve always felt a little let down when I completed a project, to be honest. But, congats, my friend I’ve heard, however, that this is only the beginning of the work–not that I would know anything about that.


  9. lisaspiral
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 00:34:38

    I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Congratulations! I highly recommend taking the instructors advice but ultimately following your gut. If you think an Agent is the way to go you can start looking. You may change your mind if the “right” Agent doesn’t show up. Same with the publishers. Keep us posted on your progress!


  10. Victoria-writes
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 04:40:09

    You should be very proud, this is really exciting!


  11. Canadian girl
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 20:21:03

    Congratulations! You deserve to be proud. Enjoy the moment and let what follows unfold.


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