How do you say goodbye to a piece of your heart?

March 28, 2011

“Wanted: A needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.” –Charles Simic, Serbian-American Poet

I love the little detail on the title lettering.
I wrote The Goodbye Quilt because it was cheaper than therapy. Honestly, I did not expect my daughter’s departure from home to hit me as hard as it did.
The first draft of this novel came out fast, in a matter of weeks, fueled by emotion and a sense of urgency to get the feelings out. 

Several years ago, I talked to my agent and great friend Meg Ruley about the book, but the story, like me, was a work in progress. I needed the perspective of time and my cold writer’s eye to transform the story from a self indulgent rumination into a novel readers could truly embrace and relate to.

I also needed to find a way to conclude the story that felt true and satisfying. This is something I struggled with for a long time and when I finally hit on the right ending, it was glad day chez Wiggs. At last, I got it right. I proudly submitted the piece to my publisher, only to hear the dreaded words, “This ending doesn’t work. You have to change it.” After much gnashing of teeth and ritual smearing of ashes, I realized that this was true. Back to the drawing board. The perfect solution came from the perfect source, my own daughter, the ever fabulous Elizabeth Wiggs Maas, now grown and married and an author in her own right.

She didn’t give me the answer, but she reminded me of the true meaning of the goodbye quilt in the story. It is a record of one woman’s days as a mom, and as such, it was an unfinished story.

Whether readers of the novel will agree or not remains to be seen, but for me, it’s the grace note at the end if a long and beautiful piece.

IMPORTANT: You can enter to win a $500 travel voucher to bring your college kid home–or to take you anywhere you want to go. All you need is to find your favorite quote in THE GOODBYE QUILT and you’re good to go. Details to follow so stay tuned!

I’m so excited for people to read this book! I’ve put up a slide show of images here: and a video with a beautiful song here: 

At the end of the novel, you’ll fine a spectacular pattern for the original Goodbye Quilt, created by the ever-talented Joan of Cards.

Categories : books
  • Looking forward to reading your new book, and have placed some of your others on order. I first read one of your stories in That Summer Place, and just saw the new one on Amazon when I was ordering another book. I can relate so much to the premise – 2 of our 3 daughters went out of state to college (we lived in VA at the time and they were in MD and NJ). Now we are in Atlanta area where 2 of them live, as well as my son, but daughter #3 lives in the Fremont area of Seattle – a long drive from GA! We were there in Sept and took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, eating lunch at the Streamliner Diner and of course stopping by the fabric shop. What a charming place Bainbridge is – close, but also far away from the hub-bub of the big city.

  • Susan, I love all your books, but this one is a definite MUST for me. I made a goodbye quilt for my daughter when she went away to study violin. I didn’t think I could bear to let her go, but making the quilt helped. Am so looking forward to reading this story.

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