Writer's Digest

Donna Gordon


What Ben Franklin Would Have

Told Me

(Literary fiction, June, Regal House)

“A dying boy and his caretaker—a survivor of Argentina’s Dirty War— journey to Washington, D.C. and Philadelph­ia to look for the caretaker’s missing wife and child who had been among the Disappeare­d.” WRITES FROM: Cambridge, Mass. PRE-FRANKLIN: In my 20s, I was writing poetry and publishing in literary magazines. … My sentences got longer and became prose. I got the courage to start my first novel, Cave Paintings. An agent … agreed to rep my book, but only sent it to 12 editors. I was asked to rewrite it by two of the editors, but both turned it down. Years passed. I got married, had two children, was a freelance writer for The Boston Globe and other publicatio­ns. TIME FRAME: … Overall, it took close to nine years before my book was “done.” I wrote a complete draft and then put it away for more than a year. After that, I started meeting with a small writing group once a month, where I received valuable feedback. … I rewrote the entire book at least five times. ENTER THE AGENT: I didn’t have an agent for this book. I queried several, but each one wanted something different. … I decided to go with Regal House

[an independen­t literary press]. Jaynie Royal, Editor-in-Chief, is a dream to work with. WHAT I DID RIGHT: Getting past self-doubt. Doing the hard work even though it was difficult. Bringing the story into focus. At some point, the belief in my characters took over and I knew I owed it to them to follow their dreams and frailties to their conclusion. WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTL­Y: I would have sought out community. At

65, this is my debut novel. But in a sense, I’ve been writing my whole life. … While writing is a solitary endeavor, support from new friends and fellow writers and artists has been enormously helpful. ADVICE FOR WRITERS: Follow your passion. Be willing to adjust your vision. Sometimes what sounds like the perfect beginning needs to go. Be patient with your characters … Facts matter. Take breaks. Stay with it. NEXT UP: I’m finishing Lesser Saints, a collection of short stories. I’ve also started another novel, On Sundays We Played God! WEBSITE: DonnaSGord­on.com

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