Today, I welcome Danielle Shipley from Ever On Word. Danielle is a fantastic blogger and author. I especially loved her PerGoSeeMo Psalms, her take on the NaNoWriMo Challenge. She’s the author of The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale, a YA novel, and it’s with great pleasure that I get to share one of her amazing posts!
If one becomes a fiction writer of any sort of renown (“renown”, here, to be read loosely; having a handful of associates who’ve heard that you write counts), there is a question that you can be sure will arise: Where do the stories come from?
“Um, well, Associate,” red-faced, uncomfortable you may stammer, “when an author and a muse love each other very much…”
Or you can try to claim that a stork left the manuscript in a basket on your porch. But there’s really no call for such embarrassment. A writer who writes is the most natural thing in the world, and each and every story written is a unique little everyday miracle.
Mind you, I claim no especial expertise when it comes to biological reproduction. However, the dictionary alternately defines “pregnancy” as “creativity; inventiveness”, and that, I know significantly more about. I’ve never borne a child, but I have borne stories – several of them – and from what all I can tell, there are a goodly number of similarities.
It all starts with conception. Maybe it’s a name you’ve seen/heard/read somewhere, and you think, That name ought to belong to a character. Maybe it’s a stray phrase you recall from a dream that sounds like it’s alluding to something awesome, if you could only figure out what it is. Maybe it’s somebody else’s story that’s all very well, but what if this had happened, or what if he were a she, or what if…? A story’s origin is so often a “what if?”.
Then there’s the gestation period, which kind of doubles as the labor. Unlike human pregnancy, there is no standard nine-month timeline. I’ve had books that have taken me a month or less to write, and I’ve had books that have taken a year (“and counting”, in the case of some books on the backburner). You can take twenty minutes and fire off ten pages, or sit there for two straight hours and maybe eke out a couple paragraphs which you may or may not have to scrap later. If, during these painfully unproductive periods, you find yourself physically injuring yourself with frustration (hair-pulling, head-banging, nails bitten down to the quick…), try a bit of Lamaze breathing to calm yourself down. Then push.
At the equivalent of the third trimester’s latter end, the author may begin to feel rather restless. Just three chapters to go! Just two to go! Just one-and-a-half! Come on, come on! Expect the opposite of nesting. Never mind making the house clean, comfortable, and “just so” for Baby; dishes and laundry will keep – you want this story out of you now!
And then, at long last, you’ve typed “The End”! The book is written, and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever beheld! …Well, actually, odds are it’s a bit of mess. Newborns tend to be. But it’s still perfect in your eyes.
Consider the editing that follows as the book’s childhood – you, as the parent, responsibly preparing your darling to become a useful member of society. Most of you will probably have big dreams for Baby, wishing your book fame and fortune and the adoration of the masses. Maybe you look forward to an acknowledgement from some down-the-road author about how their latest bestseller was inspired by yours. (Literary grandchildren!) But even if no one ever knows of your story but you and the associates you were able to bully into reading it, on one level, it won’t matter. You’ll love your story anyway. It’s a parental thing.
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Danielle E. Shipley is the authorial mother of small pieces that have made their way into literary journals Luna Station Quarterly and The First Line and the charity anthology “A Cuppa and an Armchair”, as well as larger projects such as the reverse-urban-fantasy YA novel “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” that are still seeking their fortunes in the great big world. While she usually hangs out on her own blog, Ever On Word, she was delighted to be invited here at Emerald Barnes’ Dreaming Awake Blog. Thanks for having me, Emerald!
It’s was my pleasure, Danielle!