I believe this is draft #8 of The Midwife’s Confession.
Yes, all of you who are trying to write a book and believe that once you’ve typed The End you’ll have a publishable novel, you are 99 times out of 100, wrong. You have to do it again until you get it right. I think I now have TMC almost right. Because I made some huge and dramatic changes to the story, I know my editor will want some tweaking, so there will be a draft #9, no doubt about it. But here’s the good news: I loved the story before, and now I love it even more. Lots more. I also love my editor for zeroing in on exactly what the story needed, and that was more from the midwife herself, as I mentioned a few blog posts ago.
How could I have missed the need to make Noelle, the midwife, more central to the story? It was really a case of not seeing the forest for the trees and I think this happens often with novelists, which is why they need editors. (Even if you plan to self-publish, hire an editor, please. One who can see the big picture and not just the misplaced commas).
Writing Noelle’s backstory turned out to be the most enjoyable part of writing this entire book. I suddenly understood why she became a midwife, how complicated her connections were to the other characters, and just how many things she had to confess! She was a far richer character than I’d thought. She was also really annoyed with me for giving her short shrift in the original story, apparently, because just as the character Sam tormented me during one of the early drafts by changing all the character names to his, Noelle did the same thing to me a couple of days ago when I was down to the deadline wire. I was merrily typing along when suddenly I realized that every proper name in my Word document had been switched to “Noelle”. That included city names, high school names, and all capitalized “Buts.” Example: “Noelle,” Noelle said. “We need to go to Noelle and pick up Noelle.” Yeah, that was fun to fix. Not. (Side note: if anyone knows why Word is doing this and how I can fix it, email me please!!) It’s more than a little spooky that both Noelle and Sam are dead and they are the only characters who have pulled this stunt on me.
So I’ve turned in the book once again. I wept while writing it, and not just because Sam and Noelle were giving me a hard time, but because I found this story of mothers and daughters and best friends moving. I can’t wait till May to see if you all feel the same way.