After seven years of researching and writing, I finally printed out a draft of my nonfiction novel The Convict Lover.
The stack of pages was higher than a child’s booster seat. Even in my innocence, I knew prospective publishers were unlikely to read a 750-page prison tome, so I hauled out my scissors and glue pot—this was 1994, the digital dark ages—and attacked my hard-won words. Six months later, the manuscript was lean and muscular, reduced to a mere 88,000 words from its original 200,000. My heart, along with countless, priceless scenes, lay in shards on the floor.
Yet again I forgot to move my knife to my checked luggage. “But it’s a paper knife. For cutting open the pages of a book,” I explained to the security officer bent over my carry-on.
“I don’t care what you cut with it, m’am; you aren’t taking that knife on this plane.”