binding off

It's hard to let go of a novel, especially one you have nurtured for fourteen years. I started Countdown in 1996. It was a picture book. Now it is a documentary novel. What a long, convoluted, amazing journey this has been. Yesterday I handed over to my editor my final-final changes to final page proofs. My work on this book -- my word work -- is done. I can hardly believe it.
It's a bit like binding off a project on the needles. You cast on 180 stitches, and you stay with them for months, and then, when you are through, you begin to cast off, one stitch at a time, until, finally, at some point, you are at the last few stitches... the last time that yarn will be tethered to your needles.

The last time that story will be tethered to you.

That's how I felt yesterday, as I finished talking with my editor and we wrapped it up. Now my book is entirely in Scholastic's hands. And what great, good hands they are. If I will allow myself, I can let go now.
I'm thinking back, over the many years of work on this book, the many seasons I have worked on it, the many incarnations it has had... I can barely tell you! I can't do it justice.
And I know that, just as it happens in life, we can't always see what is best in the midst of turmoil, but somehow, some way, there is always something redeeming, something shining, in the heart of the swirl. Does this make sense to you?
That's what I have found with this new book. Four editors and three houses later, this book found the exact right home, with the exact right editor, at the exact right time. Wait until you see it. You won't believe your eyes, I promise you. A documentary novel. It is an entirely new experience -- and I do mean experience.

This Sixties Trilogy found its way to Scholastic, and I am thankful for my good fortune. It's mysterious to me, how that works. I have learned not to question it. I have learned to embrace the mystery.
So here we are, at the cusp, the jumping-off point, with a brand-new book -- book one of three -- whose gestation was a long, hard one. And yet... none of the pain or slog matters anymore (which any brand-new mother will tell you). What matters is we got there... and how beautifully we got there! (Oh, it IS beautiful. What a HANDSOME book. What an amazing book.) And now, we are so close. Publication is May 1. I'll have a cover for you soon.
In the meantime, please accept my apologies for all this blathering on -- I know it doesn't make much sense, I know I should do a better job trying to tell you, but this is the best I can do right now, and I hope it's okay... I'll come back to earth soon.

I've cut the cord, that's all.... I've let it go, this long-loved story, this beautiful, grown-up child of mine. We are no longer tethered to one another, and I am floating on the great good work we've all done to help it stand on its own two feet, a new being in the world, ready to find its way.


  1. LOVE the metsphor of knitting/creating/birthing a book. And, as a knitter AND writer, I have also learned that taking stitches (and words) out is every bit as productive as putting them in. I learn something about the craft every time I do.

    Congratulations on your new creation!

  2. Thanks, Katie. I love that you're a knitter, too. Agree about learning by doing! Ain't it the truth! xo

  3. I love the analogy, too. And Each Little Bird that Sings is a favorite of mine. I can hardly wait for this trilogy. It sounds fascinating. Congratulations. (Oh, and my maiden name was Lavender)

  4. Hi, Kristin -- so glad you're a Lavender, and that you love Little Bird. Only 12 weeks (or so) to wait for Countdown! I can hardly wait, too! Thanks.


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