You know how people say they don’t want to watch sausage being made? Well, I feel as though I invited you, my readers, to watch the writing equivalent of sausage making as you followed my painful progression through the creation of The Midwife’s Confession. It began a long time ago, when after a couple of months of plotting and outlining, I was told that I couldn’t write the story because it had too similar a hook to another book my publisher had in the pipeline. Oh, that was painful. But it was only the beginning. I came up with another idea and wrote The Lies We Told, which I ended up liking a bunch, so all was well. Then I finally got the go-ahead to work on The Midwife and her Confession.
As I neared the end of the first draft, however, I had a problem with the character Sam as he tried to take over the novel by changing all the proper nouns in the book to his own name.
Sam walked into Sam High School with Sam and Sam to see Sam.
That was fun (not), and about a month ago the character Noelle tried the same trick, but I caught her at it before she could destroy hours upon hours of work, as Sam had done. (and yes, I save regularly. That was part of the problem. I save so often that it was impossible to get back to a pre-Sam version of the book without losing a half day’s worth of work.) The Sam debacle prompted this hysterical blog by my friend, author Emilie Richards, so at least Emilie and I were able to get some blog mileage out of the fiasco. (I still haven’t solved this weird Word issue, but I’m getting closer. I think).
Then, when I finally turned in the manuscript, my editor decided that even though the midwife was dead, she needed to have a point of view, so I wrote about ten chapters from her perspective, which was absolutely the right thing to do even though, time-wise, it set me way back in my writing schedule. Then my editor felt the addition of the midwife’s point of view made my teenaged character Grace’s point of view superfluous. Again she was right (almost; I’ll explain), but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like slitting my wrists at that point (and perhaps my editor’s at the same time…). So I went back to the drawing board once more, removing Grace’s point of view until I reached a point in the story where I realized we simply, positively, needed to hear from her. I discussed it with my editor and she agreed. As a matter of fact, the last quarter of the book is now primarily Grace’s story, and what a story it is.
By the time I’d completely finished the book, I felt unsure of myself. I worried that pig parts and all variety of offal were spilling out of the casings all over my writing room. I turned in the final manuscript to my editor, then waited to hear. . . again.
Success! Better than success, actually. My editor’s comment on the last page of the manuscript? “Way to go, Diane! A great, great book!”
I actually think this is some of the best sausage I’ve ever made. I can’t wait until the end of April to see if you agree. Thank you for taking this journey with me.
PS That’s the boys and me at the beach, taken by my stepdaughter Brittany with her new camera.