Almost flying apart at the seams

Gail Godwin writing The Finishing School in 1983
Photo: Robert Starer

In the spring of 1965, American author Gail Godwin found herself at a crossroads. For five years, she had been living in London, and it was there, while working for the U.S. embassy, that she endured the disappointment of her novel, Gull Key, being rejected by multiple publishers. Born on June 18, 1937, in Birmingham, Alabama, Godwin would eventually gain recognition for her captivating novels, short stories, and essays, but during this period, she was grappling with the harsh realities of an aspiring writer’s life. Amid these professional setbacks, Godwin was also navigating her personal relationships. She was on the brink of marrying her second husband, though their union would ultimately be short-lived. Despite the turmoil, she persevered, using her journal as an outlet; this entry came on May 7th. Her debut novel was published five years later, marking the beginning of her successful literary career.

The Diary Entry


Almost flying apart at the seams—

Moving day tomorrow. 

Just when the old ghosts become friends, we must accustom ourselves to new ones. Gordon [an old flame] called to ask travel advice. He’s married to Barbara. All that agonizing for nothing. I could have been doing something else.

I’ve thrown out a lot of my writing. I know what’s good now. How tight it’s got to be. My big enemies are anger, proneness to depression, and laziness. These notebooks are a waste of time. I have to produce now. No more anger.

Further Reading

In 2006, the first volume of Godwin’s journals was published, titled, The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961-1963. Four years later, a second volume arrived: The Making of a Writer, Volume 2: Journals, 1963-1969. Both were edited by Rob Neufeld.

Excerpt from THE MAKING OF A WRITER, VOLUME 2: JOURNALS, 1963-1969 by Gail Godwin, edited by Rob Neufeld, copyright © 2011 by Gail Godwin. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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