saying goodbye to a piece of your heart
June 26, 2019
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, now grown and a wonderful mom 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.
And now this heartfelt novel is being published in the most fun way imaginable, as a two-in-one collection with one of my favorite writers and best friends in the world, the incomparable Sheila Roberts. Sheila is more than a writer-friend. She’s one of the most important early readers of my work. Since time began, we’ve been reading and critiquing each other’s work, so it’s fun that we get to go public at last!
When we saw the cover, it reminded me of one of our zaniest adventures. A photo shoot in Sheila’s vintage convertible. We didn’t get far on the road, but it was definitely worth the trip.
Readers: WHERE WILL YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP TAKE YOU?
#newfiction #summerreading #SheilaRoberts #SusanWiggs #roadtrip #college