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  • Writer's pictureDonna Norman Carbone

They Don’t Call it a BOOK BABY for Nothin’

Growing up, I had a short bucket list. There were two certainties on it. One, I wanted to be a mom. Two, I needed to write. Little did I know just how intertwined the two would become. Since signing my publishing contract with Red Adept Publishing, I’ve learned that authors refer to each of their books as “book baby,” a suitable metaphor that has been reinforced throughout my journey.

Pregnancy was not at all what I had imagined. The first time, that nine months was the longest of my life. It was filled with worry and fear. I remember being pregnant with my firstborn when I was scheduled for an AFP test, a blood test that checks for genetic issues and birth defects. I said to my mother, “Once this test is over, I can stop worrying.” My mother laughed and replied, “Now that you’re a mother, you will worry for the rest of your life.” In typical mother-advice fashion, her words rang true. I check up on my kids constantly. I worry about their safety, I worry about their health, I worry about their happiness.

Just as thoughts about my children are ever-present in my mind, so are thoughts about my novel. What if it doesn’t sell? What if I think it’s better than it is? What if others don’t like it? What I’ve learned about raising children, and worrying in particular, is that I can’t control the What ifs? I need to take every day as it comes and pray for the best.

Along with the worry and fear were the high points of pregnancy. The days I felt so energetic and full of life–capable of everything, really. During the planning, considering my birthing options, envisioning and executing an appealing and practical nursery, choosing feeding options (I chose breastfeeding, but that didn’t go so well with number one, so I needed the flexibility for a plan B), I learned the definition of patience. It’s like waiting for Santa to come on Christmas Eve as a young child, only multiply that by about 270 days.

When each of my children came, I learned the rollercoaster of pregnancy is a brief insight into the highs and lows of child-rearing. There are some times that can’t be aptly expressed in words because they are so magical, almost surreal. There are the mundane days that seem to move at a snail's pace. And there are the days that you wonder why you became a parent in the first place because it can be so damn hard. What I learned was no matter the plan, life happens as it does and we need to embrace the whole of it and take every day as it comes.

Publishing is the same kind of journey. There are highs: signing a contract, feeling a sense of worthiness about one’s writing (something I labored over for years), receiving editing notes and feedback on revisions, imagining and providing input for a cover design…. There are lows: having to develop a thick (I’m talking alligator-thick) skin for the amount of rejection, the waiting, daily reminders that yours isn’t the only book in queue for publication, the waiting, the rewrites even when you thought what you’d written was as near perfect, pushing yourself even when the screen is empty or full of gibberish, discoveries about the business of publishing that often comes to you as an AHA! moment only because another author references a piece of the puzzle you didn’t know existed. Have I mentioned the waiting? I’ve realized through this rollercoaster of process, the highs and lows included, I’m learning to enjoy the journey, to embrace it–all of it. Because, like birthing a child, you’ll miss the anticipation and those AHA! moments one day.

Once you birth that first child, you feel incapable of loving another the way you have loved the first. You look at this mini piece of you–literal part of your body now outside of your body–and think: how could I possibly love someone else as much as I love you?

I wrote the first draft of my second book as part of November’s NaNoWriMo project. I felt eh about it; it certainly did not evoke the passion I had for my first. It wasn’t until the third revision that it really started coming together and once I worked through it with some CPs (critique partners) I really came to love it. It was like that epiphany you have when your second child is finally born and you realize your heart absolutely has the capacity to love the second as much as the first.

While my first book was several years in the making, as pregnancy is several months and child-rearing is many years, this has been my passion project–my great novel. I know these characters as if they are real people in my life. I didn’t realize upon the completion of my last edit, a sense of melancholy would wash over me. I was done with the process of creation. These characters, my babies essentially, would be put out into the world. It was time to let them go in the same way my children have flown from their nest.


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