Finishing Berlin, with gratitude to three women

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tamra Tuller isn't just an incredibly kind and interesting and intelligent (and very pretty) person.  She's a sympathetic reader and an outstanding editor.  A few days ago Tamra shared with me her final comments on the Berlin book.  I've just now finished picking those edits up.  In every single instance Tamra was right.  Any objective third party would have seen it.  I trust Tamra to see what I don't. 

Among Tamra's suggestions was the request that I consider (Tamra never insists) removing the book's opening lines.  I would not have seen the power of doing that on my own, but the second Tamra said it, I knew she was right.  Whoosh. A quick delete.  A better book.

I want also today to thank my dear friends Annika Duesberg and Heather Mussari for reading this manuscript in its early iteration.  Annika is German, born and bred.  She brought her big heart and impeccable English to our country more than eleven years ago.  Annika and I know each other through dance and gardens; she agreed to read this book before she headed back across the sea to live.  Sometimes Annika called her mother to check on details.  Always she was honest with me.  I feel incredibly lucky to have such an authoritative German reader—and extremely dear and jewel-eyed person—behind me.

Just as I feel lucky to have had the support and inspiration of one Heather Mussari, a knock-out through and through.  Heather is an artist and a muse.  She taught me things about pink hair, graffiti, and night prowling—things that became part of the story I told.  She was interested in this novel.  She cared that it came to be.  She's a very big part of the tale; she is, in some ways, my Ada.  And when I was looking lousy, Heather fixed up my hair and sent me out into the world with her brand of beauty.  I stood taller on those days.  I felt her loveliness touched down on me.

So. Three women.  Gratitude.  And some lines (below) that will never appear in this book.  They served their purpose, months ago, by getting this story moving.  Sometimes that's all some lines are meant to do.

My mother knows, she’s watching—her breath icing the window and a smudge of old blue beneath her eyes.   In the morning, the single whitened pane of glass will suffer like a cloud.
            “I’m back, Mutti.”
            “Danke, Ada.”
She will sleep, then, until the day comes for her, while Omi stirs her coffee with the smallest brick of bread.


patti.mallett_pp said...

So happy for you, Beth!! Thanks for sharing these details, the sweetness - and the lines from your story.

Melissa Sarno said...

Hooray for what I'm sure is a beautiful book and for beautiful people. It doesn't get better than that :)

kelly said...

I will miss the phrase "suffer like a cloud" -- please keep it in a tiny stable and set it loose elsewhere when you are ready!

Serena said...

Yipee. Can''t wait to see this one in print too!

Joyce Ray said...

Beth, I'm a new subscriber to your blog and admire the way you share what's on your heart. I look forward to reading your books. Thanks for the wonderful words about Tamra Tuller. She will be facilitating a small critique group at a mini residency I'm attending next month. I can't wait to meet her.

Lilian Nattel said...

Thank you for sharing the deleted lines. Sometimes wonderful lines have to go for the sake of the whole, but they are still wonderful as are these.

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