Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

By Keith Fisher

I sat on the stage in the Multi-stake conference the other day and watched a young mother come into the cultural hall and sit down. I assumed she was a mother because she clutched a baby to her chest and tried to calm him.

The act of her embrace spoke volumes to me. She protected her baby and it was obvious she’d come between him and harm with her dying breath. Also evident, was her quiet joy in her responsibility. She was at peace with her decision to be a mother.

I glanced to the other side and noticed another mother. Her toddler strained to get away and explore the wilds of the cultural hall. It had to be an effort for her to let him explore, keeping him at arms length, ready to snatch him back, if need be, before he got too far from her.

There was another mother behind me. Her boy wanted to climb the ladder on the back wall that leads to the storage room above the stage. This mother waited patiently while her son tried his ability to climb the rungs. But she kindly established the rules of how high he would be allowed to climb. She pulled him off the ladder each time he went higher than she felt comfortable with.

After a while I noticed a mother on the front row. With two returned missionaries, her family is in transition. They stand on the edge of adulthood. Soon she will enjoy the blessings of weddings and grandchildren. Her family will expand and her joy will be full.

It occurred to me that as writers, we are all mothers. Our infants come in the form of a book idea not yet drafted, an article, written but not ready for publication. We tend to protect that work. We would never allow another person to read it. We need time to perfect it, to let it grow.

After a while, with a lot of hard work, our toddler takes on a life of its own. It wants to explore paths you never intended it to go. As a good mother, you listen to the characters. Ideas come to you that would make the story better, but it would change the story and would mean painful revisions. You keep the story at arms length, letting it take you to different places, but ready to pull it back when it goes down paths that would make the story too long or would confuse the reader.

Later, we're ready for others to read and offer suggestions. We take it to our critique group, but like a mother, we establish the rules. If we feel comfortable with the suggestions made, we can write them in or keep them out, if we don't like the suggestions. We are the mother, and we decide how high our baby can climb. You never know, with too many revisions it might fall off the ladder, and become a weak story, with no chance of ever being published.

After a life of revisions, editing, and total re-writes our baby is ready to be published. It goes on a mission and converts some, but it touches the hearts of others. It brings joy into our lives, but it’s not the end. Just like the mother with a family of children ready to expand. We will have a family of stories in different stages of writing. Each one getting ready to be published, getting ready for their place in the sun.

Keep writing, have faith, nourish your stories and like children, they will make you proud.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

1 comment:

G. Parker said...

loved this one, Keith. good job. I was never that kind of mom...grin. I always made them stay by me in church. Outside...that was a whole 'nother story.
Have a good one