The Pregnant Pause book launch
Sat. June 24, 9:30am-12:30pm
The Halifax Central Library
Jane Doucet had read plenty of books in which a female protagonist ended up having a baby and living happily ever after. Instead, she wanted to read “a book that united married women who were considering motherhood.”
“It’s a serious topic with lots of serious touchpoints, but I wanted something light and funny and I couldn’t find it,” says Doucet.
She decided to write it. Her first novel, The Pregnant Pause, was the result. But Doucet took a 14-year pause on the book itself before it became what it is today.
The Pregnant Pause tells the story of Rose: A 37-year-old woman living in Toronto, watching her friends have children and wondering if she’ll ever be a mother.
“She’s self-aware. She’s a little bit neurotic,” Doucet says of the character. Rose’s story is partially based on Doucet’s own experiences—but despite her work as a journalist, Doucet never intended to write a non-fiction account.
“Real life limits you,” she says. “I wanted to have fun with the story and I wanted to be able to use my imagination.”
In 2003, Doucet worked with a literary agent for three months. Things were going well until the agent insisted the ending of the book needed to be changed.
“The change she demanded would have changed the message of my book,” explains Doucet. “I wrote this book to empower women who assumed they were going to have children, but for whatever reason, it didn’t end up happening.”
Doucet felt her agent’s change wouldn’t have spoken to the women she wanted to reach.
“I would’ve felt like I sold out and it wouldn’t have fulfilled its purpose.”
She parted ways with her agent and, discouraged, tucked the story in a drawer. It wasn’t until she sent the summary and outline to a friend, Ed Michalik, that she really looked at it again. Doucet was encouraging Michalik to write his own novel. Interestingly, though, it was Michalik who persuaded Doucet to revisit what she had worked on all those years ago.
“I’m a much stronger writer now than I was 14 years ago,” says Doucet. She cut 20,000 words from the draft, along with other revisions. “I actually think the time lapse was helpful and I could look at it with fresh eyes again and improve it.”
Doucet’s past experience with her agent largely influenced her decision to self-publish. However, she stresses that the book was still a collaborative effort. She hired a team of mainly local folks, including an editor, proofreader and layout designer.
“I had a really talented Halifax-based team. I’m really proud of that.”
Now that the novel is finally accessible to readers, Doucet hopes it will challenge people’s assumptions about women who don’t have children.
“There are so many different stories and I just want people to reserve judgement if someone else’s journey is different from their own—to becoming a parent or not becoming a parent,” she says.
The Pregnant Pause book launch is taking place this Saturday at Halifax Central Library. Doucet is also set to appear at the Word on the Street festival this September.