The clarity of that moment comes to me now. I was working at the Massachusetts State House, waiting for the ancient elevator to carry us down four flights, when it struck me that I would never be pregnant a first time again. So many days and weeks had been spent trying to hurry along the process so I could hold a baby -- my baby -- in my arms instead of just my heart; I couldn't wait. I was through with feeling ill and exhausted, having my hair and complexion sapped of all luster. But standing there, I felt her squirm and was imbued with wonder. It was then I cupped my belly and tried to slow time. Cherish this, I thought.
For years, since childhood really, I'd wanted to be a mother. I read and read about all the different ways my body would change, exactly how that new life would appear at each stage inside my womb, the quirks and symptoms that go along with pregnancy. I knew what to expect. If you've ever been through it, then you're probably laughing by now. There are no words to describe just how relentless morning sickness can be. No one ever tells you how a miscarriage presents until it comes to pass. The overwhelming fatigue and instantaneous passion for someone who isn't yet fully realized can't be found in a how-to manual. But you have a vision nonetheless, a shadowy sense of what it is you're creating.
There are a million and one different paths a pregnancy can take. Many are spiritual, some terrifying, others are much too unpleasant to ever be discussed. There's a general template to be sure, but there are a plethora of variables, not one journey.
You know where this is going. If you're in the process of writing your first book, the one you know in your heart will be the one -- and you do know when it's the one -- cherish the process. There is only one first time. Enjoy the writing; as difficult as it may sound, wallow in the revisions; make an adventure of obtaining an agent; and when you do, feel at peace when it goes on submission. It takes a long time to grow a book. Savor the good and desperate times alike. It will all be sweeter for it.
My baby is a teen now and beautiful beyond even I imagined. If I allow it, quiet everything within me, I can transport myself back to that time by the elevator. A crystalline moment when I held her inside of me and she was mine alone, not yet of this world, vulnerable to its interpretations and shaping.
It will be the same for each of us with our books, I think. Someday, not long from now, though it will feel a lifetime, we'll find ourselves looking back and being thankful for having that moment of clarity to hold close. Enjoy.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007