This week, Writing Wicket showcases Jane Doucet, author of The Pregnant Pause.
After earning an honours journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax in 1993, Jane Doucet began her career in Toronto at FLARE, Canada’s leading fashion magazine. She spent the next six years working as a staff writer, editor, researcher and copy editor for several award-winning national magazines, including Chatelaine and Maclean’s.
In 1999, Jane decided to pursue freelance writing and editing full-time in Toronto. A year later she returned home to Halifax, where she expanded her freelance clientele. She wrote dozens of feature articles on health, parenting, gardening, entertainment, education, business and more diverse topics for national magazines and newspapers. In 2015, she joined the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University as a communications specialist.
In 2003, Jane wrote the first draft of The Pregnant Pause, her debut novel. Following a negative experience with a literary agent in London, England, she shelved the manuscript for 14 years, dusting it off in the fall of 2016 and choosing to self-publish it in order to maintain creative control. While the story is loosely based on some of her own experiences, it’s also representative of many women’s journeys.
“I wrote my novel to empower women who assumed they’d have children but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen,” says Jane. “It’s really for everyone, though—women and men, parents and non-parents—because it’s about relationships with romantic partners, family, friends and coworkers. People will be able to relate to different parts of the story.”
I asked Jane:
Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?
I try to write a story that I’d like to read and hope the readers who like the genre and topic will also enjoy it.
Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I’m almost finished the first draft of a manuscript for my second novel.
Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Not paying authors more. Except for the big names, ordinary authors don’t receive much money from each book sale.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A novel about a married couple in their late 50s who open a sex shop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It has some racy bits, but it’s really about love—long-time mature love, love in a rut, new love, lost love, unrequited love, even the love of beloved animal companions.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be?
Until Grade 7 a teacher, because both of my parents were. Then when I was 12 I started taking ballet lessons, and I wanted to be a ballerina. I earned a dance performance studies diploma at George Brown College in Toronto, then did a short stint at the Washington School of Ballet before enrolling in journalism school when I was 20. I’ve been writing ever since, and I turned 50 in September.
Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Hardly! I find it painful.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
Q: What do you like least about writing?
Revisions, and feeling like you could still improve it even after it has gone to the printer.
Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?
Finishing! Seriously, though, rereading certain passages in my manuscript after taking a break and thinking, “Hey, that isn’t half bad.”
Q: How many hours a day do you write?
I have a full-time day job so I don’t have a writing schedule. I write when I have the time, energy and ideas. I never watch the clock, but I’m obsessed with checking word count. I rented a house in Lunenburg the first week of October solely to work on my second novel and averaged 1,500 words a day over five days.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
To entertain and educate with humour.
Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?
I put the manuscript for The Pregnant Pause in a drawer for 14 years before I self-published it. When I went to revise it, I was a stronger writer than I had been since I had written the previous draft. I cut 20,000 words out of it and the flow was much tighter as a result. So, no, it didn’t bother me; it felt necessary.
Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?
In writing, when an idea won’t leave me alone. Then I’m like a dog with a delicious bone—I won’t let go of it till it’s good and done.
Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?
Not at all. It’s a release and a relief—and time to send it out into the world and see how it’ll be received (hopefully well).
Q: What books have you published?
My debut novel, The Pregnant Pause, in 2017. I’m proud to say that it was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award.
If you are an indie author and would like to be “showcased” on this blog, please send a request to writingwicket at gmail.com.
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.