the brief life of Irwin

October 25th, 2014 § 0 comments

This is where we’re at:

1. Second pass through the manuscript done. Although the production editor may still email me with a question or two, it is possible that I may never again change another word of this novel. It’s strange to think, since I started this journey in 2007. The weird, stumbling path it took to get from there to here.

2. I took a poetry class in 2006. It was an overseas class, a month in Prague. I traveled, I experienced the city and the Czech Republic, I wrote in my journal (I always journal when I travel; it seems I only ever journal when I travel), I had fun with friends sitting in smoky bars. I learned a great deal about history, and myself, about the beauty of old city centers, about passion. What I didn’t learn is how to be a poet.

3. I mention the poetry class because I am reminded that I am stubborn and that new experiences are fantastic, even the ones that I don’t think I’m very good at.

4. After that class, I started this novel. But it began life very differently and then constantly changed: changed its chemistry, its shape, its goals. I think I have thrown away more written pages, whole chapters, than have ended up in the final manuscript. This is probably very normal but it also seems insane.

5. For example, I had completely forgotten the existence of Irwin. Going through old emails, I discovered a couple of chapters that I ended up discarding or reworking completely. One contained the introduction of a character named Irwin, a young friend to my protagonist. I wrote a whole chapter with Irwin. He liked to be called Win, liked to talk on the phone. And he wore glasses. He was like a little gnome of a friend. Irwin existed but briefly before I cut him from the novel. Then, I forgot about him until yesterday. But, the echo of his existence, remains in THE CAKE HOUSE. I was surprised to see how much of Win made it through to other characters.

6. So, all those hundreds of discarded pages, those reworked paragraphs, they must remain too, somehow. Maybe.


Recent Audiobooks:

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

The Keep, Jennifer Egan

The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers

Dissident Gardens, Jonathan Lethem

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