No, I’m not pregnant. Don’t get excited. However, I am talking about baby-making today. Well, okay sort of, in a roundabout way…
Earlier this year, I finished my second novel. Eager for my beta readers to praise and congratulate me on such a witty and amazing creation, I quickly sent them the first twenty chapters. I smiled as I waited, ready for them to tell me how brilliant I am. Well, I guess you could say I was in for a bit of a rude awakening. They didn’t hate it but they weren’t exactly in love with it either. It became increasingly clear as I considered the feedback that something in the story was not working.
When I appeal to beta readers, I like to get a range of opinions because I know not everyone will love or hate the same ideas. I’m okay with varying opinions. What I pay attention to are the recurring thoughts, especially when those thoughts aren’t all “hip, hip, hurray”. If someone even hints at a specific part of the story causing an imbalance, I pay close attention. They might not be able to pinpoint exactly why they feel this way but the fact that something is amiss means that I need to re-evaluate what I’m writing.
So, I did what every self-respecting writer does. I crawled into a corner and cried, licking my wounds methodically waiting for my beta readers to tell me they were only kidding, that they loved it really.
Ummm… yeah, beta readers? Are you still out there? You still love me, right? It’s getting kind of lonely over here.
I’ve stewed in frustration trying to come up with a way to “fix” my creation. I even asked my software engineering husband what he would do with the story even though I know he hasn’t the foggiest. I finally let him go back to the safety of writing code after watching the sweat breaking out along his forehead. I was making him nervous.
My story sat for several months until I finally decided that gosh darn it, even I am bored with promoting the same old, same old. I published The Between World almost a year ago. It’s time for something new before I reach a point when even I can’t take myself seriously as a writer anymore. I’m supposed to be the professional here and it’s my story. Time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.
The good news? I’m (finally) making progress. There was one subplot that I didn’t like so it shouldn’t have surprised me when it wasn’t well received by the beta readers. I’m writing what is essentially a lighthearted, fun story but I’d created a subplot where the sister is suffering from domestic abuse. There isn’t anything the least bit funny about that! It was dragging the story down and I knew I needed to drop it, but I was having trouble parting with so many chapters, especially after I’d already cut the entire ending.
What does this have to do with baby-making? I’m glad you asked! It occurred to me that if I simply changed the situation so that the sister is still “struggling” but not with something quite so dire, then I could rewrite rather than simply dump. I’ve settled on a situation in which the sister and her husband are desperately trying to have a baby but for whatever reason, it’s not happening. I figure this can lend itself to all sorts of uncomfortable and even comical situations for my main character who attempts to seek refuge at her sister’s house after her apartment burns to the ground.
So, the question I pose to you today as I brainstorm possibilities is what is the craziest thing you have done (or heard of doing) to get pregnant? It doesn’t have to be personal experience. It could be some wacky wives tale that you’ve read about or know of a friend buying into. On top of that, have you ever been caught in the middle of a horrifying baby-making experience that you wish you could wipe from your memory? Please share anything and everything. You never know what will find its way into my storyline…
Oh, and just for the record, the baby-making idea was my husband’s. See, he is a genius after all.
Until next time, happy writing!