I don’t understand how anyone, myself included, can create a dynamic story. Stories have a life all their own—their own wisdom, their own flaws, their own power. Today is launch day for Hannah, Delivered, and to celebrate I want to kneel down before the mystery that is story.
As you can imagine, I’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster as I prepare to put a decade’s worth of effort into the public eye. One reader weeps, she’s so moved by the novel, and I’m elated. Another reader is furious about a mistake in the book, and I feel miserable. And so it goes, up and down, until I’m driving my family berserk.
When I’m having labor pains like this, my partner Emily sometimes asks me, “What would Hannah do?” The question makes me laugh, but it’s right on. Really she’s saying, “Consult something other than your mercurial feelings. What does the story say?”
Here’s the scene that comes to me: Hannah, fairly new in her midwifery apprenticeship, making a mess of her first attempt to draw blood. She’s hesitant to poke the needle deep enough to catch a vein, so blood spurts everywhere and the man who has offered his arm is hurt, albeit not much. Hannah develops a full-fledged terror of drawing blood. She’s sure that by inserting herself into others’ lives, she’ll hurt them.
Of course I never imagined as I wrote the passage how very relevant it would be. It’s always safer not to pick up the needle, not to pierce the world with our creative work. I’ve made mistakes in this book. I will likely do damage, despite my best intentions.
Hannah’s mentors expect her to keep trying, regardless, and she does, and eventually succeeds. Her emotional pain at attempting something new is much like the physical pain of the women in childbirth around her. “Push through the pain,” a midwife tells a laboring mother; “Your baby’s on the other side of that pain.” We want to flee pain, or make it stop. But sometimes the best way out is through.
So I’m once again humbled by this story that is of me but is not me. As I push Hannah out into the world today, I’m aware of two simultaneous and contradictory truths: Our creations are always, inevitably flawed. And they contain wisdom beyond our imagining. Knowing the brokenness, we must stake our faith in the wholeness.
Right now my baby is not Hannah, Delivered the book; it’s what gets created because Hannah is in the world. I don’t yet know what this is, but I’m beyond excited to find out. Won’t you join me in welcoming this new life?