Greetings from the other side of having FINISHED A DRAFT. Was it a good draft? No. Can it be fixed? God, I hope so. This is the biggest problem-child rewrite I’ve ever done, and the end result felt distinctly monstrous. "How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?" Victor Frankenstein muses after bringing his creature to life. Big mood, Vic!
My “drop deadline” as I was calling it was June 24 — the same day, those of you in America might remember, as the Supreme Court decision came overruling federal protections for abortion. After the leaked draft opinion a few weeks earlier, most of us knew it was coming, but that didn’t actually stop my heart from breaking when the news dropped. I haven’t written much about it online because of the aforementioned drop deadline, but also because I still don’t have words beyond “fuck” and “everything.”
I used to be able to write in and through grief. The abortion I had at 17, my grandmother’s death, various breakups — I can write some truly atrocious breakup poetry when called for — all of it eventually came out on the page. But I’m not sure how to write a public elegy for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. I spent that weekend finishing my novel, hating what I was writing, and really just wanting to crawl under the table at Starbucks and induce a coma on command. (I think the baristas must have known; they ended up comping my last 2 of the 5 drinks I consumed that day.)
It did make me realize that Burned and Buried is, essentially, about the trauma of one’s bodily autonomy being violated. Both characters are the victims of violence. One of the characters is literally consumed from the inside by it, and the other is trapped inside a skin that’s not her own. Very familiar if you’ve ever had an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy or been trans, or both, like in my case. This made the book feel more grounded, but it also made the anxiety deeper. Burned and Buried had gone from commenting on and lightly satirizing the horror genre to me rummaging through my own past hurts, and my fear of the future. No wonder I got stuck on it for a year. No wonder the end result felt catastrophic.