Some of you may remember a big announcement last year. It was about a book. A book that I was so excited about. I talked about it on the blog and on social media sites. I had a book reading and signing. But something just wasn’t right.
That book, that precious book where I let my childhood memories in all their vulnerability out into the world, did not sell. Meanwhile, my previous book kept on selling.
I couldn’t figure it out. It was so defeating and so depressing. I had been writing that book for eight years. What happened? Why was it so poorly received? I didn’t talk to anyone about it, because when you love writing and you want people to receive your words….well you don’t talk about the hard stuff.
Right after the book came out I had major surgery. While I had hoped to spend my recuperating days writing, instead I ended up just healing. It was the hardest and most humbling work I’ve ever done, and it was a fulltime job. Soon after that, I realized that my dad was entering into his final illness. I needed to spend as much time as I was able with my mom and dad, which is never enough time. He died in October, and soon after that, some of the stuff you never talk about on a blog happened.
And the book got lost in all of the stuff that was happening. But I would still think about this book. Why on earth did I write it? What did I expect? Dear friends from Pakistan were writing me regularly telling me they would never read the book. It was just too hard for them. So what was it for anyway?
I realized I hadn’t written it for them. I had written it for a far more general audience, but the book didn’t reflect that. I also realized some things about writing. Just as an artist puts their heart and soul into their art, we who write put our heart and soul into our words. We craft and recraft sentences. We look for meaning behind things that happen to us and we invite others into those events, hoping they too will find meaning. As Joan Didion says: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live….We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices….”
Writing helped me to understand more about how important stories are to our understanding of others and ourselves. I thought more specifically about the third culture kid’s journey, the stories behind the arrivals and departures, the narrative that captured the sweetness of hello and the bitterness of goodbye.*
In the middle of all these life events, I did a book reading. It was there that one of my friends asked me about the title. She said it so graciously, but I took the words to heart. “What about the title?” she asked. “Why did you choose to call it that?”
My friend is Israeli and Jewish – in other words, we come from different countries and different faiths, but she loved the book. Her words took root in my heart.
It was in early winter that Doorlight Publications reached out to me. They wanted to reprint the book. It wasn’t selling well. What did I think about retitling the book and adding a foreword as well as a section that would take the reader from reading about my story to writing about their own journey?
There is a phrase in the writing world that talks about killing your darlings. In other words, the things that you hold onto the most in writing sometimes need to be killed off, taken out, severed from the body of the book.
The title was my darling. I so wanted ‘Pakistan’ to be in the title. And it seemed to make sense that I would put faith in it. But it narrowed the focus of the book too much. The book was my journey through my developmental years in Pakistan and included so much more than Pakistan and faith. Would I be willing to kill my darling?
I would, and I did.
Just last week the book was re-released under the title Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey. I love it. I love the cover. I love the foreword by Rachel Pieh Jones, who is writing her own book to be released in 2019 by Plough Publishing. I love the ‘Mapping Your TCK Journey’ at the end, followed by book resources.
And I’m excited for this new start. You don’t always get another chance with a book, but I did with this one.
So would you give it a chance? Would you consider buying the book? I would love it if you did!
I would love to have you purchase the book! It’s on sale through Amazon and available wherever books are sold.
*Page 184 Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey
7 thoughts on “About a Book….aka Kill Those Darlings!”
I have just finished reading your book Marilyn. As someone who lived in the Middle East for seven years and now lives in India, it transported me so beautifully to your lands. Your descriptive words also conjured my own memories of places that people are often astounded to hear how much we loved living in Qatar and Oman for example. Yes, how do you truly describe sunsets in the desert, the welcome tones of the call to prayer, or the warmth of being welcomed into a Beduin tent; all of it lives forever in our hearts, like small global stamps. When you described your longing for your home in a ‘foreign’ land, I thought of a comment a friend recently made, “I can only love India a little, I have already given my heart to Malaysia.” But yes, we must find a way to move forward, each country, each experience and allow them to join the treasures of the past. Thank you for taking me through these emotions and of course the wonderful insight to your very rich childhood… I loved it!! xx
Doesn’t this parallel the process of a TCK? You start to share an amazing story about an incredible glimpse of humanity in a fascinating locale, and people start to drift away to listen to someone else talk about their vacation in Disney World (just an example-nothing against vacations in DW!). And those who can relate, like your friends who have said “they can’t read it,” have to put on our “uh-oh, here comes the resonance of loss, longing, and the life we once lived” feelings.
I’ll buy the new one, but I read and loved the old…
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Oh my gosh – this. I never thought about it, but it makes so much sense.
The book is indeed far better than the first reception indicated. And it is more than a story about Pakistan. It is a story for us all. So excited for this new step! And for the new cover. :)
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You are so kind. Thank you for your beautiful review!
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Done. Ordered. (Amazon is out of stock, but I’m sure more will be there, soon.)
I am looking forward to reading your story, Marilyn! Blessings on your revised book. May it be a help and encouragement to many.
Thank you so, so much! This means so much to me!
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