A LITTLE BIT PREGNANT
by Deborah Elliott-Upton
“Every time I agree with myself, I write an essay. When I disagree with myself, I know I’m pregnant with a short story.” — Amos Oz
I’m a little bit pregnant today. My husband isn’t surprised and neither am I, but we don’t have to worry about bassinets or bottles. Instead of being with child, I am about to give birth to a new short story. Especially at this time of year when the weather forces me more indoors, I seem to be more fertile. (And yes, our children are both Scorpios.)
Today the wind is howling outside my windows. I think of banshees or the Great Dust Bowl or perhaps tornadoes spinning across the Texas plains plucking up one house by its plumbing roots while leaving its neighbor untouched.
It’s late October and the pumpkins are ripe and ready to be turned into Jack O’ Lanterns. My characters need a bit of carving, too. They need an edge to make them stand out from the rest. Like pumpkins, characters come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Shall they be scary? Simple or sophisticated? It is the artisan’s skill who transforms them into works of art and makes them either memorable or forgettable. While the sculptor removes what he does not see in his mind’s eye, the writer cloaks his art to disguise its true self until the appropriate time.
I’m thinking of cooler months and blizzards, a log cabin surrounded by weary Indian trappers wanting nothing more than shelter from the cold, the homeless scrounging for scraps in alleyways behind a New York City restaurant.
A soldier sweats inside his helmet in Iraq, but knows it is suicide to remove the protective covering. A woman weeps for her dying father knowing he will not see another sunrise. A friend betrays another to secure an election.
The time is right to write, yet I wait. There is a pregnant pause that must be calculated to birth the story at the precise time. Don’t forget the labor pains. That’s the rewriting, the critique from peers and alas, more rewriting.
At last the time has come. The delivery has taken place, the child named and sent out into the world for approval. The baby must be thrust out into the world of publishing, awaiting public opinion. Do they adore this creation? No matter. It’s time to start anew.
Getting pregnant is only the beginning of a new adventure.