According to dictionaries, gestation refers to the growth of a baby inside a mother—or the growth of an idea—over a period of time.
All authors, male and female, are acquainted with this process. A seed—the germ of an idea—is planted and begins to grow. For a time, it exists only in the mind and heart of its host. At some point, a sprout appears where others can see it, but it may be difficult to tell whether it will be a tall pine with branches laden with needles and cones or a short stout shrub with leaves as shiny as new pennies.
It is rare for a literary seed to bear fruit in a single season. Perhaps some authors write faster than others, have enough experience from other projects to know what they’re doing when they begin, or need few revisions. Most, however, would envy the rabbit, whose gestation period is approximately 30 days, or cats and dogs, whose newborns are delivered after sixty or so. (I shudder to think of the whale’s experience, pregnant for nearly a year, or that of the elephant, whose child remains in the womb for nearly two.)
Medical science recommends regular checkups for expectant women. Likewise, authors who want a healthy product find individuals willing to read and give constructive criticism to their work.
Unlike human babies or floral offspring, however, the author’s child is not fully born until it reaches the public. That means enduring the labor pains of finding an agent and then a publisher who sees the potential in the child you have created.
The Witness, published by Dunham Books and scheduled for release to the public in late July or early August, is a story of trauma and recovery, horrific violence and healing, crippling fear and courage. My advance copies arrived recently, and I’m happy to report that this child, my child, although only nine inches long (and six inches wide) and weighing only one pound, four ounces, is a birth worth celebrating. Cheers!