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Growing a Book

by Charlotte Snead

I recently wrote on my FB page: “I’m gestating a book . . . Please don’t bother me.” March 12 is my oldest child’s birthday. I gave birth to four children, and I promise you gestating a book takes more time, the labor is longer, and it’s a much more grueling process. I could have given birth to an elephant, perhaps two, in the time it took to birth my first published novel, His Brother’s Wife, Oak Tara, October, 2012.

First come the rejections – valid ones that taught me a lot: tighten, and, yes, that means cutting writing you love that doesn’t move the story forward. That hilarious scene, the moving conversation – cut, dice, butcher, but just out of this story. (Save those words, you may use them one day.) I never had to butcher my babies, every finger and toe came out perfect – God made them, and we didn’t send back any pieces. We kissed each little piggy and pinky, even the ones that were a bit crooked.

Everyone one, honest or not – of course they were unbiased – told me my baby was adorable, perfect the way she came out. Not so when you take your manuscript to your critique group. Your fellow would-be writers are honest about the little flaws because your creation could be improved, and they only want to make it better.

All my OB did was observe the baby’s growth, invade my innermost physical parts, and tell me to push. Go to an ACW Mentoring conference, and the mentors will help you push, reaching into your innermost soul. (The best writing is vulnerable, and sometimes it is equally embarrassing to expose those parts of ourselves.) Thank God for Dr. Dennis Hensley, mentor extraordinaire, who first saw my potential and patiently edited my manuscripts. Having him edit for you is like going to one of his classes on professional writing. I owe this patient and gentle man. I diligently rewrote and submitted again until he said, “Go for it!” and sent me to Write to Publish.

Pitch again. Go to a conference where editors make appointments with authors. Dress professionally, have your synopsis and 30 second pitch perfected, say your prayers, calm your nerves, and let your passion for your work and your target audience guide your presentation.

Listen to your editor-she wants to make money on your book as much as you do, and she’s been at this a lot longer and published more books than you have. Meanwhile, continue to perfect your craft, go to workshops, and write, write, write. We are all still learning, and perfection remains a goal.

I find it imperative to sow seed by helping and encouraging unpublished authors. I want to reap a harvest. I have a lot of books in my writing womb.

Charlotte Snead
Charlotte Snead graduated from Duke University in 1963 and completed a Masters in Social Work from the University of North Carolina in 1966.
She has been published in
The Pentecostal Evangel and Harpstring, and recently was a winner in the Tales2Inspire short story contest.
As the mentor for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), she sees the need for edifying, fiction that puts romance in marriage. She and her husband live in their empty nest on twenty acres in rural West Virginia.
Oak Tara published her first novel,
His Brother’s Wife in 2012. She is currently working on a series of inspirational novels involving a family of gifted Irish-American musicians.

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3 Responses to Growing a Book

  1. Iola says:

    I think you’ve convinced me that writing a book is nothing like having a baby.

  2. Telena Tanara Contreras says:

    Literally laughed out loud. This was encouraging and hilarious, thanks for posting.

  3. This is exactly how it is! Thank you for sharing this common birthing experience that writers all understand, but that the watching uninitiated usually do not.