Because today, my friend, Wendy Paine Miller is in the house and she's talking about writing, birthing babies (I said that in the tone of Prissy from Gone with the Wind!) and her debut novella, The Disappearing Key. Wendy, take it away!
I can’t say when it was that I realized several of my novels depict scenes that revolve around labor. I know women care about such events and I write women’s fiction, but the process of including births in my work wasn’t intentional. It doesn’t work like that. At least not for me anyway.
I think these scenes kept showing up in my work because I was writing into the pain. As a writer, I was “going there.”
I have three daughters.
And I lost two babies in between my second and third.
What’s weird is I rarely ever bring this up. It’s still hard. Seven years later, speaking the word miscarriage still swells a sizeable knot in my throat and the backs of my eyes sting with tears.
So why, you might be thinking, why go there?
I don’t really have a clear cut answer except to say it’s what writers do. Whether it’s a part of the catharsis or a subconscious gut instinct that women could sit around a table all night sharing labor stories, these scenes keep finding a way into my work.
I also think it’s because we’re bonded by birth stories. They are our badges of courage, our completed marathons, our tour de force, our personal Mount Everest, our interlaced threads of womanhood stringing us all together through vulnerability—by honest life-surging events as heartbreaking or funny or remarkable as they come.
So I write about births, as I did in the first scene of my debut novella, THE DISAPPEARING KEY. I feel what my character’s feel, their loss becoming my loss, their joy—my joy. I may not always agree with their choices or understand their reasoning, but more than anything else as I writer I aim to experience with them vicariously, without judgment, unencumbered and fully engaged with them moment by moment.
I step away after writing these scenes with a heightened sense of empathy, a fueled curiosity, and a deepened sense of gratitude for the ways women bolster and enliven one another in conversations that involve childbirth.
Why do you think women are so bonded by stories of birth? Have you experienced this is the case in your experiences with women?
Wendy lives with her husband, their three girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels
Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature.
She’s represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.
Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ or connect with Wendy on Facebook or Twitter @wendypmiller