I won’t be taking When We Come Home to the San Francisco Writer’s Conference with me. At first I felt as though I had failed. But I realize now it’s the only right decision. Maggie’s story simply isn’t ready. She’s not polished, and before I hand her over to an agent or publisher who will decide my fate, I want her shining like a diamond.
It’s all right. Although patience has never been my strongest suit, I’ll wait. I have two non-fiction book proposals ready and waiting in the wings. I have the beginning of a memoir I plan to enter in the SFWC Writing Contest. So – really, it’s all right.
Here’s the problem. The most important part of the novel – it’s beginning – is a mess. How do I know this? Aside from the fact that a very good editor told me so, more proof arrived in the form of Olive Kitteridge.
A friend recommended that I read the book by Elizabeth Strout. When it was offered on loan, I sighed heavily and accepted it begrudgingly while thinking “when am I going to find time to read another book?” It collected dust for a couple weeks and then, over the weekend I dipped in. By page 5 – PAGE FIVE – I was hooked.
Of course, I would expect a Pulitzer Prize winning novel to have me hooked by page five.
I should expect no less from myself. And, so, I need to do a little bit of rewriting. I owe it to Maggie. I want my readers to know who she is. I want them to want to read past page five.