The Burial


Well, there’s killing your babies, as I discussed a couple of posts ago. Then there’s burying them, and that’s what I’m doing with my Work-in-Progress. Some of you voted on titles for it (I was, for the time being, calling it The Glimmer Child), and you know how excited I was about it as I worked on the proposal. I realized a couple of days ago, however, that I was going to have to let this story go. I still love the concept, but as I worked on the outline, getting down to the nitty gritty details, I knew the story was too “out there” for me to write right now. I’m not abandoning it forever; it will be tucked carefully into the basket where I keep other proposals I’ve set free for the time being, to be revisited at a later date. The reason for this decision is career-related rather than emotional. Thousands of new readers discovered me with The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and Before the Storm, and I’m afraid of disappointing them with a story that’s too much of a departure from what I’ve written in the past. After helping me weigh the pros and cons, my terrific agent left the decision to me, and I knew she’d support me regardless of my choice.

Even though the decision had to be made dispassionately, it wasn’t without emotional ramifications. I’ve worked hard on this proposal and the idea for the book has been with me nearly a year. It’s hard to let go of something you love–a story that feels like your baby and characters you’ve come to know and care about like family. I spent most of Friday night grieving the decision, and I still feel a twist in my heart when something reminds me of a treasured aspect of the story. But I woke up Saturday morning feeling strong and resilient and ready to create something new.

I’m at the beach for a week with Bren Witchger, and there is no better place for me to be as I go back to the drawing board. Bren’s at work on her current WIP, so we’re brainstorming, scribbling, and popping chocolate-covered espresso beans. We’re on the marsh side of the beach road this time. We can see the ocean between the houses across the street, but the view of the marsh is soothing and evocative and I love watching the water shift between low tide to high, when it comes through the grasses nearly to the stilts of our beach house.

I’m going back to work now. Some new folks are worming their way into my imagination, and I’m looking forward to learning their passions and fears and secrets. I’ll let you know how I make out as the week progresses.   



  1. brenda on September 21, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Sorry you have to start over…but maybe some time between last and next WIP will give you a new prospective…I do think that something like Bay…Cee Cee…or Keeper would be great…As to disappointing your readers, I doubt that would happen-you are so gifted.

  2. Gina on September 21, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Diane, I know you will come up with something wonderful. Your books do not disappoint. Keep writing. We’ll wait for you.

  3. Denise on September 21, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I know how excited you were about the WIP. But I also know that you will come up with something equally wonderful for the next one!

  4. Margo on September 22, 2008 at 8:32 am

    What a hard decision for you to make Diane! I know that I would never be disappointed in anything you wrote…all of your novels are very unique from each other. I do hope that you are able to use the idea in the future because even tho we knew nothing about it, something told me it was a phenomenal idea.
    Thank you Denise, Gina and Ann for recommending all these books I’ve never read. Santos and Lamb and also Jodi Picoult which Diane and Brenda talk about so much. My fav Mary Alice Monroe was BEACH HOUSE but I know Brenda suggests I read THE BOOK CLUB. I went to Border’s over the weekend and bought Oprah’s new pick…Oprah definitely made it clear to not read the jacket cover which I never do anyway. I am now on book 3 of the TWILIGHT series which is ECLIPSE…they are not for everyone but I LOVE this series!
    Diane, I can hardly wait to hear what you come up with for your new WIP…have fun at the beach!

  5. Alexandra Sokoloff on September 22, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Oh, I feel for you. I’m having this same angst right now. Wish I could make it to the beach to talk it over with you and Bren, but it’s not going to happen this time. 🙁
    Have a wonderful time!

  6. Denise on September 22, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Margot, Lamb’s “I Know This Much is True” and a Jodi Picoult (Second Glance?) are on my Borders’ Buy One, Get One Half Off table right now.
    Diane, your writing group seems to be a really interesting and eclectic group of women. How does the brainstorming work when you all write different kinds of novels and genres?

  7. Margo on September 22, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Thx Denise…I make my weekly run to Border’s on Wed and will look for those!…good question for Diane…I’ve always wondered about that too.

  8. Diane Chamberlain on September 22, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Alex, Bren and I wish you were here, too! We’ll have to get together soon and commiserate. I know you know what it’s like to let go of a beloved idea.
    all, thank you for the support! You’re the best readers a writer could ask for.
    Denise, my writing group is indeed eclectic, although four of us write mysteries. Alex writes horror/paranormal. Mary Kay Andrews writes funny women’s fiction. And I write what I write. But we all understand the process and structure and what makes a good story, so we can help one another out a lot. And it’s great to be able to get away and just focus on our writing from time to time.

  9. brenda on September 23, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I have not really liked Oprah’s last few picks…did like some of the earlier ones.

  10. Denise on September 24, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Ladies, just wanted to mention that I finished “Time is a River” by Mary Alice Monroe this morning. I liked it, but I thought the first third of the book was slow. I will probably read her again.

  11. Margo on September 25, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Denise, if this was your 1st Monroe book try reading BEACH HOUSE and then SWIMMING LESSONS which was the sequal…BEACH HOUSE was my fav of hers. (-:

  12. Julie on September 25, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    “…and I write what I write.”
    Ha ha! That’s a good one. I’ll have to remember it because people are always asking what kind of book I’m writing, and it’s so hard to describe. I usually start by saying family drama, but I still like psy/fi! If only it weren’t already taken under another spelling.

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