So how did capturing a “smell” in notes turn into a manuscript–a book–and why would publishing said book change a person?
The Dad who smelled earthy, the smell in the train station of metal burning foreshadow the coming of age the narrator (a twelve-year-old girl) is about to go through.
The writer (me) is committing to following the idea of a girl coming of age to its conclusion. Somewhere early in the writing, not long after taking notes on smell, I came up with the book’s title The Starlings in London. This is the one thing I never wavered about. It helped me focus on the unfolding story.
I decided I was going to write this story of anguish, the break-up of a large American family in the foreign city of London in the late 1950s and I decided I wanted to contrast the city with the country to make it more interesting for the reader, and to give the anguish a breather once in a while.
The book’s ending, I knew from the book’s beginning. That helped give it bookends so to speak.
Each chapter I wrote was brought to writing group to be critiqued. I did not incorporate all the suggestions of the other writers. Instead, I thought about the suggestions and decided which of the suggestions made sense to me.
After a good long year of writing and critique in writer’s group, and re-writes, I then worked without interruption…not reading any books during this 3-month period because I did not want any other voices in my head other than the ones I was honing in the book. No reading. No Facebook.
When I had completed the manusrcript to the very best of my ability, I sent it to a very good copyeditor. Lots of grammatical errors were corrected. I had to give way to her suggestions about word changes (hard to do). For instance, I wrote that Lily Starling states, “my socks were dew wet.” The copyeditor changed that to “wet with dew.” For the most part I went with all the copyeditor’s corrections/suggestions, as in copyeditor knows best. However, I would only do this because I know how good my copyeditor is.
Now we have the final file. Great! I can read again! Check out Facebook if I want to again. Have a dinner date not just with my husband, but with friends. Rejoin the human race.
To be continued…