Back Into It
Welcome back to our regularly scheduled, year-round programming. Before we get into the meat of this week’s letter, I’d like to share some final thoughts on this year’s #1000wordsofsummer.
We raised $20,000! Amazing. The money will be divided between the contributing writers’ selected charities and sponsoring a Scholastic Book Fair for a New Orleans school. (More details on that soon.) Thank you to those of you who were able to make contributions.
An important note: if you subscribed specifically to support this event and are not sure you will want to continue to subscribe, please make sure to turn off your automatic renewal. You can find out more about managing your paid subscriptions here. The last thing I want is for anyone to get annoyed if they get charged for something they do not want to be paying for.
We ended with upwards of 31,000 subscribers, with about 28,000 (or more) of you checking in each day. If you weren’t all writing, I hope, at the least, you received a glimmer of inspiration regularly as you read each letter. That would please me greatly. A little bit of hope for our hearts and minds early in the morning.
As for what I accomplished these past few weeks, I wrote just shy of 15,000 words. Half of it was flash fiction, as I continue to stew on what might be my next project to begin in 2024, and the other half was brainstorming some new scenes I might want to write for the novel I’ve been working on the past few years.
You know, the new one, the new novel, my first one to be published in five years, since I took time off from fiction for the memoir. It’s been sitting here these past few weeks waiting for me to make some fixes to it. This morning I will spend time with my editor’s notes, my notes, and the new material I just generated, trying to make a list of things I need to do in order to proceed. I’m hoping to send a new draft in by the end of summer.
Do I feel overwhelmed a little bit? Sure. Did I snack a little hard yesterday? Possibly. Did I maybe sprawl on my couch for a few hours panic-texting a few friends about a totally unrelated topic that was actually just a mask for the real issue at hand which is the massive revision I’m about to undertake? I have no idea what you’re talking about, all of my problems are real.
Look, there are a lot of notes, and it’s a big document — my longest book ever. The conversations I’m having with people about this book at this stage are all about how to make things irresistible and highly readable and convincing and compelling. All of the meat of the story is there, all the characters are defined and present, and it’s just about a bunch of moving parts at this point, steering them, tightening them, grasping them in my head and bending them to my will.
I’m going to move a few sizable chunks of the book around. I know there’s at least two chapters I’m going to cut — maybe three. (I found Julia May Jonas’s recent letter about playing the end actually quite relevant to my own work.) I’m going to need at least seven new scenes. I have to revisit and reconsider and revise. My head spins a little bit thinking about it. But there’s nothing I can do but dive back into it. We start. We stop. We start again. We find our way through.
So stick with me through this summer. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how to revise a big book, as well as how to prep for a book publication six months out. Plus, I’ve got some fun travels coming up with a bunch of wonderful writer friends. I hope all of this will be helpful or at least a little entertaining to you in some way. I’m going to regroup for the next week or two, but I’ll be back soon to spill the beautiful overflow of ideas in my head.
Where do we go from here? Forward. I’ll see you there.
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to Electric Girls.