New York Times  Bestselling Author

You Never Sausage a Book!

me and pupsYou 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 9780778329862_TS_smp.inddview 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.

14 Comments

  1. Cindy Mathes on September 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I think that your fans, and me included, have enjoyed this journey. It certainly has given me a perspective of how a writer’s passion turns into hours and hours of ICK “Work”. I believe that that most of us always thought if it is a passion and your day job, it would not be WORK. I think we now see a different side of it. The saying “Blood, Sweat and Tears” has now become clear. I look forward to reading your latest “Sausage”. I think that we will all have a umm say “ownership” in this particular batch. 🙂

  2. Ann on September 26, 2010 at 1:57 am

    What a wonderful picture! Wow, Diane, what you have been through with this book is unbelievable to me. I cannot wait to read it! Will it be out next April? If so I will take it with me to Topsail Island to read when we go there in May.

  3. clicia Tremblay on September 26, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I find the creative process fascinating, though painful and whenever I think of it, I think of a concept in painting called “Pentimento” – don’t know if it necessarily applies here- bt which accd to Wikipedia means: “Pentimenti may show that a composition originally had an element, for example a head or a hand, in a slightly different place, or that an element no longer in the final painting was originally planned. The changes may have been done in the underdrawing of the painting, or by the visible layers of paint differing from the underdrawing, or by the first painted treatment of the element having been over-painted.”d
    Some pentimenti have always been visible on the final painting with careful inspection; others are revealed by the increasing transparency that some paint acquires after several centuries”
    Lillian Hellman wrote a book called “Pentimento” and I liked it so much that I named one of my daughters after her.
    Anyway, this is to say that I would love to read the original version as well, Diane…LOL.
    Good luck!!
    Clio

  4. brenda on September 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Love the cover and love the hat (just wore my hat completely out like that one–had to ditch it this summer…alas…I wear hats all year…in fact-started doing that in 1992…finally others are wearing hats in the winter…love them…

  5. brenda on September 26, 2010 at 11:07 am

    You have utmost patience…can’t wait to read this book.

  6. Denise on September 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I don’t think I would have had the fortitude to keep pressing forward as you did, Diane! I know the book will be fantastic, though. 🙂

    Love the photo! And the new book cover is beautiful, too!

  7. Margo on September 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    What an adorable photo Diane!…ah, this incredible journey you’ve been on with THE MIDWIFE…she even escorted you to Mayo Clinic!…you probably feel like you’ve been run through the sausage machine along with the sausage but I have no doubt this will be a remarkable book…it’s time to post the picture of you skipping thru the woods with arms in the air and Keeper behind you…Yeah!!

  8. Diane Chamberlain on September 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Wow, Clicia, pentimento is a good description of this final product, and sounds much prettier than sausage.
    Brenda, I love hats, too! I particularly love that one because you can crunch it up in your suitcase.
    Cindy, it’s a job like any other, except that I love it–most of the time.
    Ann, yes it will be out the end of April, and I added a very brief Topsail Island chapter because I couldn’t resist.
    Margo, you’re right. I’ll have to dig up my “finished” photo, though the last time I actually skipped anywhere I was about 6.
    Denise, you would do it if you had to. I know you would.

  9. clicia Tremblay on September 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I am glad you like it Diane, also, I am vegetarian, so sausage of any kind is not that appealing to me LOL…so some of my family members- non vegetarians, who live in farms love making homemade sausage..I’ve seen it done…well LOL…anyway, I LOVE that concept of “Pentimento”, the doing over something – in life, if possible, or in art- bt still seeing or being able to see, at some point, the underlying of what was first done or done before, since a lot of it – what was done the first time around, IMO, is instinctive and organic….anyway, having said: wouldn’t it be great if readers could read all the diff incarnations of a book and then decide which version one likes best??

  10. clicia Tremblay on September 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    BTW, lovely cover photos- this one plus the one for “The Shadow Wife”, I have a huge spot for babies and children, so looking at the those photos makes me almost, almost, almost want to have another baby, so I may have to get the ebook version as not to be tempted!!!LOL I just got done with potty-training 2 yrs ago, not ready for more!!

  11. Brenda on September 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    ct. I have been a vegetetarian over 18 years
    I buy premade food but also make up recipes. I have do many for veggie chili. Yummmm

  12. Diane Chamberlain on September 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    I’m sure you vegetarians LOVED reading about sausage making! I was a veg for about ten years when I lived in CA. It was harder at the time I moved to VA; California made it easy. Now I live with a carnivore and I eat everything, but if I lived with a veg, I could go back to it easily.

  13. Brenda on September 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Should have mentioned love the sunglasses too. I have several pairs of black and even purple. Some have glam on them. Compliments of shopping with granddaughters. I love my big Jackie Kennedy sunglasses
    It was a little difficult the sausage ha ha

  14. clicia Tremblay on October 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    My hubby, my Lilly and my whole family are carnivores. My hubby likes his stakes rare..yuck!!:)..my dad/grand-daddy believe(d) that a meal was not complete if you did not have meat in/with it. I and my Nina don’t care for meat, we never really had a taste for it…funny…I was about 10 when I became one. Funny how that is. I make steaks/chicken etc… I marinate it and I am complimented on it. I just don’t taste it…so I take my carnivores’ word for it!! Now, I have not met a veggie I did not like

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