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.
It’s been a month since I finished my Frankenstein draft. I’m starting to come out of the post-draft funk, feeling the creative muscles in my brain unlock again, and I’m planning new books, new worlds, new monsters to fight. I’m not done with Burned and Buried, but it’s amazing to be able to start thinking past it. I sent a handful of pitches to my agent this weekend — my favorite includes a monster that looks like a long furby, time loops, and sinkholes. Let's hope my editor likes it.
Similarly, I’m starting to be able to think past [[gestures]] all this shit. Kansas voters rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would let its Republican legislature ban abortion, which was such a shocking relief that I’m still not over it. It's been hard not to be afraid for (or maybe of?) the future. It's extra work to ground myself in what is good, what is changing, and what future I want to help shape.
What I’m reading
MURDERBOT, Y’ALL. I know I’m years late on this, but I’ve been making my way through the audiobooks and enjoying all of them so much. I’ve been bouncing off every other SF/F/H novel, so I’ve also been taking my time with some nonfiction. I’m almost finished Ten Cent Plague by David Hadju, about the creation of the Comics Code Authority, for a planned podcast. Next on the list is Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch and Ghostland by Colin Dickey.
Did you say podcast?
I may have decided to make a podcast with friends about publishing drama, and chose the creation of the Comics Code because it’s 1) exTREMEly dramatic, and 2) offers some potential insight into current discourse about censorship, especially in children’s/YA literature and graphic novels.
Crononauta, my Spanish publisher, released the cover image for Aventuras en el Litenverso, which is an omnibus translation of both FINNA and DEFEKT. The art is AMAZING, full of little references to characters and scenes in the books. I posted it over on my patreon last week.
I turned 37 on August 2nd, and got many story and poem recommendations that made me really happy. Check them out if you’re in need of reading, or inspiration, or something to unexpectedly crack your heart open. (My favorite, and most relevant to what I wrote above, is probably this short tumblr-essay about finding a sycamore tree growing in a parking lot.)