No other question than the one above is more dreaded by a writer.
Especially one suffering from verbal constipation.
Recently, I was talking to my friend Shanie, trying to explain the challenge I was having penning my second novel.
I told her – praying my explanation didn’t reek of B.S. – that writing “The Mailman’s Daughter,” the second installment in my trilogy series, was like being pregnant.
Granted now, I’ve never been pregnant, but writing since I was seven, I have birthed more than my fair share of stories. And the labor I’ve experienced to deliver each tale has always been different and unique every time.
Like a pregnancy.
I know. I know. Hang in there with me, Fam. I’ve thought about this.
See, when I wrote my first novel, “Address: House of Corrections,” I wasn’t really writing at all. Arrested by the story and characters, the words careened out of me like contractions seconds apart and the surprise baby I wasn’t trying or expecting to have was coming with or without me.
In a cab.
On the way.
To the hospital.
An effortless, first time pregnancy, all I had to do was show up every day and write. No morning sickness. No horse pill prenatal vitamins. Just me, my words and the page.
Cut to 2010 – seven months after I published “Address: House of Corrections” and the day I tossed out the first 100 pages of my follow-up novel.
Hold on, Fam, I can hear you collectively gasping. Yes, I scrapped 100 pages of my second tale. Why? Because I had a mental break? LOL! True, some might say yes, but the real reason I threw the baby out with the bath water (Actually, my first “TMD” pages are still on my hard drive. I’m not a complete fool) was because that wasn’t the story I was supposed to tell.
Now what the hell that story was, I had no idea. But the one thing I did know was that I wanted to be pregnant again. But this time it was going to take some doing.
I’m talking in vitro fertilization, doctor visiting, prenatal pill taking, feet elevating, bed resting, morning sickness, problem pregnancy doing.
Yes, “TMD” shares the same DNA as “A:HC,” but in no shape and form was it going to be the same pregnancy. Inspired by the life of my amazing, breathing and still kicking mother, “The Mailman’s Daughter” was already different for three main reasons:
Number one: My grandmother is dead. So other than being haunted Paranormal style in the middle of the night, I was free to use my imagination to fill in the blanks and weave her story into the tapestry that I pleased.
Number two: I love my momma. Does she know it’s fiction and has she given me permission to tell her story to help others and “go make that money?” Yes, she has. But up until a few months ago, that still hadn’t stopped me from hesitating over plot points and fretting word choices.
And Number three: I can’t tell my momma’s story without telling my own. Which means, I’ve had to spend time revisiting memories – some remembered, others restructured – that I’ve purposefully and not so purposefully forgotten. Lawd knows, it has been such an interesting exercise, remembering what I didn’t realize I had forgotten just so I can free myself from the facts and magically turn them into fiction.
And the fourth reason — I know, I planned to write only three, but hey, the Spirit is moving and I just thought of this one — not to mention that I haven’t finished the screenplay for “A:HC” yet and I was afraid “TMD” wouldn’t be as successful as it was. I say, “was,” because with this blog post, I’m burying the stagnating, paralyzing energy I’ve been carrying around like Jessica Simpson baby weight.
Let the record show, Fam, I am now ready to give my second pregnancy the attention it deserves. Bed rest. Vitamins. Regular doctor visits. Whatsomever it takes to bring my healthy baby to term, that’s what 2013 will be about for me.
And I may or may not be writing or posting pictures about it. “The Mailman’s Daughter,” like the woman who inspired it, likes her privacy.
She also likes birthday gifts. All goes well, you’ll be able to purchase “TMD” at amazon.com and barnesdanoble.com in 2014. 🙂
Fam, what new babies will you be birthing in 2013?