where the writers are
Project Writer



I love to sew. And strangely enough, what I love about sewing are the same things I love about writing.

A new piece of fabric laid out flat is a lot like the story in my head, and the pattern is the outline. A cleanly executed seam is akin to a polished, fluent sentence. The garment takes shape in much the way a plot does, piece by piece. Even the language is similar. You start a project. You cut. You edit. You adapt and revise for fit.

I learned most of what I know about sewing from my Italian grandmother. A fine seamstress and frustrated designer, she spent most of her professional life working in a garment factory in Newark. And she was a tough taskmaster. She had no compunction about handing a piece back to me, saying, "You done a bum job. Take it apart and start again." Sometimes she would just hand me the seam ripper. Nothing seemed as daunting as starting over; nothing seemed as painful as taking apart all my hard work.

Last spring, after a series of rejections from agents who passed on my full "with regret," I could practically feel Grandma Mary at my elbow, looking over my shoulder and shaking her head. While my book was not exactly "a bum job," it still wasn't a good fit. It needed to be picked apart, redesigned, and reworked. So I got to work.

In the fall, I had an offer of representation from my current agent who suggested some revisions. And then another round. By the time she submitted it to editors, I was convinced my story design was finished, and all I had to do now was wait.

So far one editor has passed, but is willing to give it a second read. If I revise.


Pass the seam ripper.

1 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Pass a thimble full of tequila!


I love the sewing analogy! I made one skirt in my life in Home Ec., 9th grade. If I had an old Italian grandmother she would have had me rip it up, I'm sure. One devilishly hard vocation (writing) is all I can handle. I am in awe of the fact that you tackle two..

Rachel Willen