Not writing in Philly (but obsessing nevertheless)

I left Tucson last week, on a morning where the temps reached 80 degrees before noon. We took a fast run around the university and then my partner and I headed for the airport. He took a flight back home to Anchorage and I headed to Philly to visit with my sister and mother for Easter.

There, in the Tucson airport, as I waited for my plane, a message popped up in my email from my editor at Hachette about my second novel, Waiting for My Daughter’s Ghost (which, I’m ashamed to admit, was almost two years’ overdue).

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The first part was mostly praise and positive, and my chest puffed up a bit (you know how that goes) and I felt warm and fuzzy inside because of course I feel a great love for my characters and truly believe that I wrote the best book that I could.

Then I came to the concerns/editorial suggestions which, if I read correctly, suggests that I start the book at the ending and begin from there. Which is undoubtedly a great idea and would produce a great book, just not the book I set out to write.

I pondered this as I flew to Tucson, made notes during a layover in Dallas (where a guy in pink pants and cowboy boots sat next to me) and thought, okay, this isn’t what I originally set out to do it is workable.

After I got settled in at my sister’s, I opened up email and found a message from my agent, who basically said that she doesn’t think I should make major changes to the book and suggested cutting out part of the middle, tidying up the storyline yet retaining the transitional arch from beginning to ending which, she said, is where the real story lies.

My head aches. Choices are tough, and choices concerning one’s writing are even tougher. Since I’m traveling and don’t have access to the finished manuscript on my tablet, I’ve decided to take it easy for the next week and not obsess, which of course is almost impossible since obsessing is what I do best.

So I’ve been out exploring Philly, which is so different from Anchorage and Tucson, so many large buildings with incredibly intricate architecture and then, hidden on the edge of the city, wonderful and unexpected gems of parks and green spaces, the best so far Chanticleer Gardens, which offers acres of paths winding through naturally arranged gardens, complete with lots of chairs artfully arranged, the perfect space for writers to sit, ponder and obsess over their sad choice of profession.



Ruins at Chanticleer Gardens, complete with my sister’s arm.
Don’t I look stressed and exhausted? This is what happens when you stupidly write a novel.

What I’m reading: Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala. OMG, if you haven’t read this memoir, pick it up now. It’s pure and deep, like rain falling over your shoulders, a little bit cold, a little bit uncomfortable but a blessing still the same.




4 thoughts on “Not writing in Philly (but obsessing nevertheless)

  1. It will be interesting to find out what you do, Cinthia: as your editor says, or as your agent says, or neither 🙂 In any case, I’m happy to hear that you have a 2nd novel! By the way, the photo of the face partially submerged in … oil?? Mud bath?


  2. Oh, man, I can’t stand it when someone suggests “revisions” that would necessitate that a different book come out of it! It seems to me that editors are way too blithe about suggesting such things, rather than trying to improve what the author submitted. One told me once, “Too bad you didn’t make your characters Starbucks employees or something — that would have been interesting.” I’m like, WTF?

    Anyway, it sounds like you have a real dilemma on your hands. Maybe taking your agent’s advice is a good first step, then see how your editor responds. Fair compromise!


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