One of my challenges is editing.
Editing can be such a positive experience. I get to know my characters in a whole different way. Sometimes I realize, hey, Eldie would never say that, or Ephraim makes me cry. I wonder if I should say more about Cecilea. Sometimes I wonder who wrote that? Was it really me?
I often wake up, like I did the other night, and think, you forgot to mention that as he aged, Popi became quite bandy-legged. Yes, I love that word, bandy-leg. It says so much. Doesn’t it.
The editing process makes me hyper-conscious of word.
Yesterday, a character in a show I watched said to her work partner, “Would you like to hold my baby?”
The mother became quite perturbed when her partner declined her offer.
What an interesting word ‘hold’ is. And how peculiar to use it in relationship to a baby. Especially a newborn baby.
I began to think of all the ways we use the word ‘hold’.
Hold on to your hats; here we go.
Hold that thought.
When will you hold that meeting?
The suspect will be held pending bond.
The dictionary offered twenty-five ways to use ‘hold.’
Holy mackerel, none of these seem to pertain to holding a baby.
- to have or keep in the hand; keep fast; grasp: She held the purse in her right hand. He held the child’s hand in his.
- to set aside; reserve or retain: to hold merchandise until called for; to hold a reservation.
- to keep in a specified state, relation, etc.: The preacher held them spellbound.
- to detain: The police held him at the station house.
- to engage in; preside over; carry on: to hold a meeting.
- to keep back from action; hinder; restrain: Fear held him from acting.
- to have the ownership or use of; keep as one’s own; occupy: to hold political office.
- to contain or be capable of containing: This bottle holds a quart.
- to bind or make accountable to an obligation: We will hold you to your promise to pay back the money.
- to have or keep in the mind; think or believe: We hold this belief.
- to regard or consider: to hold a person responsible.
- to consider of a certain value; rate: We held her best of all the applicants.
- to keep forcibly, as against an adversary: Enemy forces held the hill.
- to point, aim, or direct: He held a gun on the prisoner. The firefighter held a hose on the blaze.
- Music. to sustain (a note, chord, or rest).
- to omit from the usual order or combination: Give me a burger well-done—hold the pickle.
- to remain or continue in a specified state, relation, etc.: Hold still while I take your picture.
- to remain fast; adhere; cling: Will this button hold?
- to keep or maintain a grasp on something.
- to maintain one’s position against opposition; continue in resistance.
- to agree or side (usually followed by with ): to hold with new methods.
- to hold property by some tenure; derive title (usually followed by by, from, in, or of ).
- to remain attached, faithful, or steadfast (usually followed by to ): to hold to one’s purpose.
- to remain valid; be in force: The rule does not hold.
- to refrain or forbear (usually used imperatively).
No wonder the character on the other end of the request, “Would you like to hold the baby?” Said “no.”
So, I got to thinking, what would I use, instead of “Would you like to hold the baby?” Why do parents offer their newborns to others?
Synonyms offered these unsatisfying alternatives: enjoy, embrace, fondle, squeeze, take, secure, clench, and a host of other words equally disturbing when applied to a baby.
I did find a synonym that is much more appropriate than ‘hold.’
“Would you like to cherish my baby?”
Now I understand why the mother felt insulted when her partner refused. Why would he refuse to cherish her baby?
How different we might all feel when a mother’s outstretched arms ask, “Would you like to cherish my baby?”
That might also explain why the offer is so common. Of course, we want others to cherish our babies.
This brings me back to my editing process. It’s a labor of love.
Loved-One asked me yesterday, “When do I get to read your new book?”
“Not yet, it’s not ready,” I said.
A book is an author’s baby. I’m not ready to relinquish her to someone else yet. Someday soon, I’ll ask Loved-One:
“Would you like to cherish my manuscript?”
And then, just like with any newborn, more work and growth will begin. Eventually, she’ll be ready to walk alone in the world.