A Writer's Experience


CIS wanted the manuscript for its Holocaust diary series. The other books in the series were all accounts by Eastern European Jews, and the publisher was particularly interested in a book that would include the experiences of German Jewry. However, as their books were diaries, it would be necessary to produce a first person account. The most appropriate narrator was my mother. So in the third version she became the narrator and my co-author. Fifteen years after I started, I was willing to agree to almost any demand to have the book published.

It took me no more than three months to write the third and final version of my book. The biggest task was changing the text from a third person to a first person account. In addition, I spotted some parts that needed clarification and secured further facts from my mother. CIS books are aimed at an Orthodox Jewish audience, so I reviewed the manuscript to make sure it was free of references that might inadvertently offend Orthodox readers. As publication was now assured, I also reviewed the manuscript, again verifying historical references.

Why did two years elapse between the initial acceptance letter and publication? Part of the delay was due to a change of control at the helm of CIS. The editing process took longer than I had anticipated. Editorial changes the publisher required dealt mainly with religious matters. I could not talk about a concert performance by a Jewish woman singer. Admiration for the natural tresses of a married Jewish woman had to be deleted. I swallowed my author’s pride and accepted alterations in the text and deletion of phrases that I believed caught the mood. The only strenuous argument concerned CIS’ insistence that one of the four racist 1935 Nuremberg Laws, the one that forbade sexual relations between Jews and unmarried gentiles, not appear in the published text. I had to give in there too.

One of the publisher’s editorial staff suggested the title, "Shattered Crystals." I was unenthusiastic, but never came up with anything better. The artist commissioned to design the cover perfectly caught the mood. The only change to his original painting was our request that he add the name of the store. Though the publisher talked about the text for the jacket, I waited in vain for the copy. Eventually I suggested that I might write it, an offer the publisher immediately accepted.

Because my mother was now the narrator, I wanted to explain my part in the book and wrote the preface, which the publisher accepted and printed. I also submitted the dedication that had always been in the back of my mind. I received the text of the Publisher’s Note when printing had already started and cringed at several glaring typographical errors. I faxed urgent pleas for corrections, but when you read the Note, you’ll see I was too late.

Reading the text, readers may find other typographical errors. I had no opportunity to do anything about these. As we got nearer to the printing of the manuscript, I kept expecting to see page proofs, but it never happened. One evening in January 1997 the publisher telephoned me at my sister’s New York City apartment to say the first copies were ready. He appeared close to midnight and handed me a copy of Shattered Crystals. I was surprised at how thick it was. It ran to 410 pages. I held it in my hands and felt numb.

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Copyright (c) 1999, Eve Rosenzweig Kugler.  All rights reserved.