Or A Day in the Life of a Writing Parent
Most novel writers have a few stories that were started long ago and never finished. Some of these stories continue to poke and may eventually see the light of day, but it’s usually with a sense of “when the time is right.”
I have a couple novels in this state. One of the strongest is a novel titled Three Women, which follows the interlaced lives of three women who work together in a data entry pool until they’re laid off, and move into a relative’s cabin for a while to support each other.
It’s more literary than my normal speculative fiction and so not high on my list, but the characters are strong and compelling enough to bug me.
There’s Rachel, the female equivalent of a gigolo, or so you might think from the outside. The truth is a botched abortion when she was young left her sterile and she’s unwilling/unable to commit to a relationship because she’s sure with all of her being that when her lover finds out she can’t have kids, she’ll be left in the dirt.
There’s Margo who is in a committed relationship. She and her lover have decided to get pregnant and get married. Only trouble is that they can’t conceive.
And finally we have Sarah, much younger than the other two, a friend almost by circumstance rather than choice because she was hired into their section. She’s a lesbian, who, after a bad breakup, has pity sex with her gay friend…and gets pregnant.
Yes, this novel’s heart was the question of whether or not I should have kids, though it explores the concepts of friendship, love, and commitment as much as procreation.
Jump forward to today and driving in the car with my youngest son. We were talking about some troubles I had with my college teachers, and the stories I was working on at the time came up in the context of choosing my thesis adviser.
When I told my son about this one, his comment was simple. He said he was glad I ended up writing a science fiction novel instead of that one for my senior thesis.
I couldn’t see why he would care one way or another, beyond his own preference for speculative fiction, so I asked him why he’d said that.
My son replied the novel was all about figuring out whether or not I should have kids, right? Well then what if I’d finished it and decided no. He wouldn’t have been here :).
He’s fine with me finishing it now though…when the time is right. Clearly some twenty years ago was the right time to start the novel, but not, in his opinion, to end it.