Lee Collins’s new book, Too Much Left Unsaid, is a “deftly crafted multi-generational novel set in the Midwest between 1917 and 1969,” according to Sharelle Byars Moranville, author of The Hop. Too Much Left Unsaid, published with the Write Place in May, is available at our website. We spoke to Lee about her book and her writer’s craft.
Have you always been a writer?
I have been a writer since I was four and “wrote” a note to my mother about a phone call she had missed. Most of my writing has been personal (letters and journals) and professional (lessons, presentations, articles) until the last few years. Over my career as a teacher and teacher of teachers, I have enjoyed history (though they were current events then) and words, stories, and life.
Tell us a little about how this book came to be.
Where did the inspiration come from? In 2009 I gave myself a birthday present of going to the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. That fall I wrote the first draft of Too Much Left Unsaid in a month. Many, many, many revisions later I am pleased with the book and glad that the Write Place helped get it on bookstore shelves.
Since the novel weaves together many characters and points of view, was there a character you found particularly fun to write?
I love all my characters, but Mattie is my favorite. She is based on my husband’s mother, but I hasten to add that the book is FICTION. She kept journals that scarcely revealed anything more than the weather, her menus, and trips to town. In my fiction I imagined many adventures she might have had.
My college roommate and several of my teaching and writing colleagues were very helpful in shaping the story and the language I used. Classes at the U. Of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, both the instructors and the fellow students, gave me valuable feedback, as did my friends at the Marion County Writers Workshop.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Best advice: Don’t give up. Keep working and revising. Every draft will likely be an improvement. (But keep the old drafts until you are sure they aren’t better.) For me, independent publishing was the only route to go. I checked out many options and choosing the Write Place turned out to be an excellent choice. I could not be more pleased with the editing guidance of Hannah Crawford. Thanks to her and all who helped along the way.