Heads boiled like cabbages

Yesterday I read The Minister’s Wife: A memoir of faith, doubt, friendship, loneliness, forgiveness and more one last time, every word, each sentence, every scene, each stumbling thought.

We are close to the end, which I suppose will be its own beginning. I asked my editor Bonne, what freedom I had at this late stage. Am I just tweaking? Can I change things yet again? She told me if I changed too much that our heads would be boiled like cabbages. This brought a clarity to my work.

During the MFA, when I was writing the foundation of what is now this book, we were told to explore “beautiful digressions.” To romp around a bit and smell the roses — and then describe them — and expand our thoughts and our words like we were stretching our arms and legs after a Saturday nap in a warm bed. I did that then.

Now though, it’s about winding things up. I had a picture in my mind — once I cleared my head of the image of my boiling head — of rolling up a ball of string, tucking in loose ends and making things neat and tidy, and tight and under control. This all felt very good. I made 26 tweaks. Which does not sound like nothing, but Bonne — whom I like to please — assured me this was entirely reasonable and that we weren’t in torture territory at all. I wonder if there ever comes a point when you read a manuscript and do not find a single thing to change? I doubt it. But this time when I sent it back I told Bonne I was done like dinner, and I think I meant it.

5 thoughts on “Heads boiled like cabbages”

  1. I can hardly wait to read it!

    Thank you for being vulnerable and writing down your story. I believe it will bless and encourage many women who are in the trenches with their beloved husbands.

  2. Rebecca van Noppen

    Interesting thoughts about the string, and tying things up. The Lord spoke to me about tangled yarn this week. I am complicated, tangled, but He in his patience does the untangling of my messiness – even cutting if necessary – to be wound again into wholeness and to create a piece of artwork that is for the display of His craftsmanship and wisdom. I was knitting and of course my yarn was tangled. I took out the scissors and did some untangling of my own project, to create my own piece of artwork. So thank you for tying up the loose ends, we will enjoy your piece of art!

  3. Karen, you inspire me! Can’t wait to hold in my hands your gift to us. Thank you for all your joyful, hard, cabbagy work.

  4. Thank you for this post! I love how you can make me laugh and feel vulnerability and be inspired, all in a few paragraphs. I am looking forward to reading your book!

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