May 28, 2011
Empty Nest Syndrome
I remember when it all started, just nine months ago. I was on bed rest at the McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, hoping not to deliver my baby too early. The idea suddenly struck while I was lying in my hospital bed, having just finished one of Patrick McManus' books. "I can do something like this!" I thought as I pondered how he turned simple life memories into an entire series of humor books. "Now...what's something funny that's happened to me?"
I remembered the time when, as a young child, I sneaked an egg from our refrigerator in hopes of rescuing a cold, dying chick. I carefully wrapped it in warm blankets, and kept my soon-to-be pet tucked safely away in a hole in the back of our brown velvet sofa. Every day, when no one was around, I would crawl behind the sofa and peek in, anxious for the day when I would soon hear those gentle chirpings of a newly hatched chicken. I would finally have my own pet!
"What's that smell?" Mom suddenly asked one day, face hideously scrunched up. My stomach dropped when her search led her to my makeshift incubator in the back of the sofa. "What is THIS?" she angrily asked.
I cowered as she carelessly unwrapped my precious egg.
When the egg was revealed, she was livid. "Who put an egg in the sofa? It's rotting!"
I could take the guilt no longer. "I did," I meekly answered. "I was trying to hatch it."
Laughter suddenly exploded from her, and I was luckily saved the agony of punishment because I had been so gosh darn cute and naive.
Yes, that was a funny enough story to put in a book, I thought, but did I have enough of them to make an entire BOOK? I didn't know if I even had enough to write ten PAGES. I needed to find something in my life that was ridiculous, and that had been ridiculous for many years. Wait a minute! Of course! My infamous problems with boys! I had more than enough experiences, and with my incredible journal-keeping from my youth (I had eleven of them), I had plenty of resources to draw from.
As I started to write my book, I relived my youth, cringed through my awkward years, and rolled my eyes as I recalled the love blunders I encountered in my early adult years. I revised my book several times, each time creating a new feel to it. Originally titled, "Confessions from the President of the V.L. Club," my story lacked a certain air of humor, and reeked of, well, pathetic woe-is-me stories. I needed to make it Patrick McManus funny. My title then changed to "Glass Slippers Don't Go With My Shirts," strewn with references to a Fairy Godmother, and ending on a note that left the reader feeling a little sorry for me. Nope. It had to be funny. I next re-titled my book, "The Incredible Misfortunes of Love," and decided that no one would buy a book with THAT title. It made me sad to take out all of my beloved Fairy Godmother and Cinderella references, because I have always been fond of Cinderella love stories. It just was not the right fit for my book.
Finally, after playing around with some words I myself would look for when searching for this type of book, I settled on the title, "Waiting For Cupid." It was perfect, because it doesn't automatically imply a happy ending, but definitely the type of book this would be. I was finally content with my story. I revised again, this time adding references to Cupid (I luckily already had mentioned him a time or two), and was able to add humor to my ending. (If you want to read parts of my book, check out my blog archive "Waiting for Cupid excerpt" as well as the link that says "Read some of my stories"!)
Once I was completely satisfied, I took the scary step and submitted it for publication. Maybe not scary in the sense that I'm afraid of rejection, but scary as in I'm now giving up my baby. Nine months of my life went in to this book, lovingly developing each chapter, each sentence, each word. And now that I'm finally done with it, I feel like my mother who is suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome: empty, alone, and without much purpose. Am I alone in this, or is this feeling common among writers? I know that I need to take several days off from writing to catch my breath, relax, and allow myself to be open to embrace another writing project that will require my full love, attention and devotion.