I've “been pregnant" for the last nine months. Of course that's out of the ordinary for a man. No, I don't have some special physiology. But the metaphor isn't far off the mark to compare "birthing" a first novel-length work to what a woman might go through to reach a blessed event. There are long gestation and then a final agony of release that fulfill one's power to create life. Leading up to that event comes the long, slow march of ideas that starts with a climax of insight, and builds ever so slowly to another, and then another. Moments of new vision are some of our sweetest pleasures.
A baby starts as a few cells and gradually repeats all the stages of human evolution as it develops into that eventual sheaf of beauty and promise of a bright future, a new baby. Gestation lasts nine months, give or take, and that's how long it took to grow this book. Those weeks of toil were powered by sheer joy and pain recalled from my happiest years, the middle of my life.
Like many writers who may be new to fiction, I began with short stories, those sprints that prepare and strengthen a writer for the marathon. One day, three of my stories aligned like distant, luminous bodies on the horizon. They clustered to suggest one entity. On close inspection, they had gaps between them and like so many events in writers' lives, they pointed the way through to new work that a lizard-brain was trying to suggest, a new entity.
"What this needs," I realized, "is more narrative to close the gaps and flesh out this story into something whole and viable that can survive, and stand alone, strong and beautiful.”
Then came more months of revision, finding issues, fixing them, adding, subtracting; until that moment when the whole being emerged, complete. It drew its first breath and screamed out to my world "I live!" And it was not merely a tiny, squirming product of my intents. It was separate, powerful, a goddess. A Sea Goddess born of three parents; my wife, myself, and that trackless, watery wilderness full of life, that blood of our planet that we call the sea. Suddenly, breaking water astonished me. I had actually written a novel, forty-four thousand words in twelve chapters.
Sea Goddess is with her nurses now. She’s being readied by two sensitive, wise midwives who are helping dress her in her baptismal raiment. But soon, she'll emerge into the world, full of portent and for me, consequence, and maybe even some wisdom.
The release is soon to be announced and all are invited to attend, to meet her and enjoy her lines. Like a proud father, I'll sit on the side and absorb everyone's responses, both positive and negative, and learn. Then, after a little rest, I'll turn around and do it all again, hopefully even better.
Sea Goddess, a first novel-length work, lives and soon I'll be able to say where to find her.