Holding My Ground - Julie Chibbaro

This is what just happened to me.
I worked on my new novel, tentatively titled Aurora Borealis & Amazing, on and off for about ten years. I published parts of it in a literary journal. I read some at open mic readings. I brought it to my writing groups. I worked it, baby, hard and long until I got it just right. Then, my agent, who loves the book, submitted it to an editor. She said she loved it too, but wanted me to change it, vastly, in ways that I understood from a marketing standpoint, but not from an artist’s view. We spoke for a long time, trying to hash it out, but coming to no agreement. I got off the phone with her and sat in my office, staring at the manuscript, trying to imagine it in the way she suggested. I thought about what I’d been through with Deadly, trying so hard to please my editor so she would be happy, so she would publish me. I sat with the book for a week, thinking about how damaging that constant compromise had been to me.

I decided, finally, not to change it. I walked away. I held my ground.

Am I scared? Do I worry my words will never see the light of day? Yes. Yes. But I feel it was the right move. I feel that people WILL understand the book, that the right publisher WILL find the courage to publish it just the way it is, or with changes that make sense to me in an deep way. I know that my agent believes in me, and she’s tough to please.

The book is about a boy graffiti artist who meets a girl poet. It would contain his drawings. To the right is a self portrait he did. All drawings would be done by the artist Jean-Marc Superville Sovak, who also did the line illustrations for Deadly.

We are submitting AB&A again next week. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes. Anyone who wants to share stories of holding your ground, please do. That sure would make me feel better.


  1. Good for you. I've never been in that position but I can hazard a guess at how hard walking away would be. I think you did the right thing - after all, when you get published, you want it to be something you are proud to admit you wrote. If you wouldn't be happy with the end result, I personally think you made the right choice. For what it's worth :)

  2. That's a great story. I once heard it said, and I'm probably completely mangling this, that at least when you do things your way at least you know you've pleased one person.

    Good luck and fingers crossed!

  3. It's a question of what you can live with. If you changed the book and it got published, wouldn't you always live with the nagging feeling that it wasn't the book you wanted it to be?

    I'm a big believer that editors bring a lot to the table, and the writer's work is not sacred. So I don't say this lightly: In every book is an essential heart of what the writer meant to say, and that is the part that is worth holding ground for.

  4. Best of luck as ABA goes back out on submission. It sounds like a really unique book that you put so much heart into. I'm sure it will find the right home. I'd say more, but I think Jennifer above me really nailed it!


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