Writing a novel sounds like a romantic pursuit without much heavy lifting, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Just ask Portland resident and author Sarah Braunstein. She calls the process that produced her first novel, “The Sweet Relief of Missing Children,” a “long, strange and laborious journey.”

Braunstein, who was named one of 2010’s “5 under 35” fiction writers by the National Book Foundation, will join Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding at this year’s Maine Festival of the Book to talk about the tricky process of “Wrestling a Book Into the World.” Their free talk takes place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Maine Festival of the Book kicks off Friday night and continues through Sunday with dozens of events featuring more than 75 authors. The bulk of the events are free, and most take place at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Center in Portland.

All sessions offer a chance to meet, interact with and learn from published writers.

During her session with Harding, who lives in Massachusetts, Braunstein intends to talk about both the writing process and getting a book published.

“Figuring out the story, figuring out the arc of the book, figuring out who the characters are — it took me seven years of sustained effort,” said Braunstein, 34. “I learned how to write as I wrote it.”

During this time, Braunstein’s book went through numerous edits and revisions. Some of the revisions were simple language tweaks to make sentences more powerful, but others were more substantial changes.

“A missing child is at the center of my book,” she explained. “I didn’t explore her point of view until the end of the book. It wasn’t until the very end of the project where I had the guts and stamina to write from her point of view. I learned from the drafts that her voice was needed and other characters’ voices weren’t needed.

“It was not a point A to point B process.”

Braunstein said one of the most crucial parts of shepherding her novel into the world was having a group of people she could trust to give her honest and constructive feedback.

The other necessary component of being a successful writer, according to Braunstein, is being an avid reader.

“You need to read lots and lots of good books,” she said. “Read, write and surround yourself with people who do the same.”

The Maine Festival of the Book will be an excellent spot to find such like-minded bibliophiles.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter at: Twitter.com/AveryYaleKamila


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