The gestational period for an elephant is 22 months. Twenty-two months of discomfort and anxiety. Twenty-two months of nurturing and hoping. Twenty-two months of waiting and waiting and waiting.
I am an overdue elephant.
My baby (and so many writers have called their books “babies” for good reason) is literally on a boat coming from China and headed to US Customs.
I’d long ago fallen in love with the baby’s father of sorts: Michelangelo Buonarroti. Brilliant, hard-working, and passionate, he made a lovable mate. True, he never changed his dog-skin boots, and hygiene wasn’t high on his priority list. But when I stood in front of the Pietà for the first time… well, I had more sympathy. He was a man who lost his mother when he was six years old. And there in marble was the most perfect mother holding her most perfect son with a tenderness and a beauty that brought me to my knees.
Michelangelo wrote poetry. He wrote while he sculpted and while he painted, sketching himself on the scaffolding while he frescoed the Sistine Chapel ceiling. And as I read his sonnets and his letters, I fell further. He fought with his brothers and with his father, but they always made up. And his nephew adored him (or at least the money he would inherit); he sent his elderly uncle pears and new shirts. Michelangelo, my love, sent thank you notes – what manners!
My baby, this book of mine, was conceived in November, 2005 so, actually, I’ve got those mama elephants beat. I researched and wrote, wrote and researched for months.
And the result?
A manuscript that had to be cut – by more than half. I felt like the mother before Solomon: which half of the baby did I want to keep? But unlike that mother, I was forced to choose. And the baby was the better for it.
So now I wait. Like the mama elephant, I am anxious and nervous and not entirely sure what comes next. And I hope that Michelangelo would be proud.
Causes Angela Nickerson Supports
St. John's Shelter Program for Women and Children St. Jude Children's Research Hospital