Following up on “Some Updates on My Status Updates,” from March 2019, and “A Note on Notes, an Update on Updates, a Work in Progress,” from September 2017:
I finished a draft of Intercalated Days, a novel, this past summer. Then I showed the book to Emily. She gave me edits. Which I finished responding to in October.
If you happened to have read what I wrote in March—”Following Instructions exists within Intercalated Days. I’m almost done with the former. Then I can build it out into the latter”—that is what I did this summer. Following Instructions is the primary text, which is surrounded, or accompanied, by a secondary, contrapuntal text. In the margins, or perhaps in the gutter, depending on how you look at it.
In other words, I finished the novel after about two and a half, or maybe five, or maybe six years, depending on what I’m counting from: six years since I started writing; five years since I started editing; and two and a half years since I realized what the final thing would or could be, and began climbing the Heartbreak Hill of shaping it into the thing it has now become.
The current manuscript is about 125,000 words long, or about 300 pages. It’s already cursorily laid out in InDesign, which I realize may annoy some agents or editors, but since it’s in this kind of Talmudic – Pale Fire – Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life structure, there’s no way to actually read it in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.
It could still be accurately described, as I wrote two years ago, as “an autofiction wrapped in a writing dare wrapped in a false document” or “John Cheever meets Anne Lamott meets Sarah Manguso meets Jenny Offill.”
Here’s how I’ve rephrased those ideas in my current query email: “The elevator pitch for the book, I think, might be that it’s a John Cheever – Anne Lamott hybrid, or an autofiction enveloped in Oulipian saran wrap, packed into a false-document breakaway suit.”
Which is to say, the query emails are going out! Although I feel like I also understand more than I ever have how a manuscript, even one that takes years and years to write, can just end up in a drawer. Even if the writer thinks it might be good: I think I understand better how you could just never want to think about it again.
I’ll write updates in this space, if there are any!
Wish Intercalated Days good luck.