Up Close with Patti Callahan
Updated: Jan 24, 2022
From Friends and Fiction Newsletter Sept 16, 2020
I just hit SEND on my page proof changes and I started thinking a lot about how many times we here at Friends and Fiction celebrate “finishing” a novel, or novella, or short story. We celebrate when we finish the rough draft. Then the first read, then the second and third (and sometimes on and on), and then the copy edits, and then, as I’m doing now, the page proofs. And yet each of those (until printed book) isn’t “finished." Each of those stages is a “the end” that isn’t really “the end.”
We are always telling you amazing readers and watchers out there about our small celebrations of endings. But in truth, each little “the end” until the big “The End” is a beginning: the beginning of the next part of editing or reading or finishing or freaking out.
We think we are done, and then we find another mistake or another chapter we need to add, or another page of dialogue that isn’t in the right place. Or if you’re like most of us here on Friends and Fiction, we discover our timeline is a bit (or a lot) off. So we aren’t quite as close to “the end” as we’d assumed.
These past two weeks, I’ve been reading out loud through my page proofs for Surviving Savannah (coming March 9th, 2021). I’ve been reading them to myself (no one else needs to hear me read this out loud – trust me on this) and I’ve been catching errors like gnats on a summer night coming for the lantern light. I kept thinking – Aghh, just when I thought I was finished, I am NOT finished.
“Oh, I should add that,” and “Ooooh, I should delete that.” I read an article and want to add a chapter. I talk to an expert and realize I messed up the dive scene. It goes on and on. Only love could keep one doing such a thing as this – going back again and again to an end that seems to never be the end.
But it’s the same as anything else in our lives, I think, the end is rarely the end. It’s finished “for now” until the next thing pops up like a life of whack a mole. This Pandemic, it never seems to end, but it will, right? But even when it ends, we will be altered and changed forever by it. Our books, too. They will be finished and bound and out into the world. There is a due date and a printing date and a pub date.
Then, even then, it won’t be finished, because at publication it belongs to you. It becomes, as Madeleine L’Engle says, a bridge between reader and writer.
And then…I’ll begin another book so I can find “the end” to begin again.
Coming March 9, 2021
It was called "The Titanic of the South." The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she's shocked.
The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can't resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.
Everly's research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Dawson, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah's society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions.
This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving. Read More
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