Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: revision

I finished my novel, The Prodigal Hour, earlier. At final count, I had trimmed nearly 15,000 words from the previous draft–the final clocks in at a brisk, crisp 90,000 words.

All of which, I probably don’t need to tell you, are awesome.

(well. That’s the hope, anyway. Ultimately, it’s for you to decide. And heck, you even show up in the book. Because you’re just that rad)

Given that, I’ve begun to submit it for representation. Just a couple of queries so far to a couple of agents I think would be a really good fit for it.

Actually, really, to a couple of agents I think would fall in love with it.

And can I just ask: in this day and age, what’s with any agent who doesn’t accept e-queries (or any editor/publisher, for that matter)?

Come on: it’s 2008.

(wow. 2008. Yaysh)

Anyway, a few queries out. First round.

Wish me luck!


So, when I handed it in as my thesis, my novel, The Prodigal Hour, clocked in at roughly 104,000 words.

Besides some job hunting and basic settling in during the past two weeks, I’ve been doing pretty much nothing besides revising. I bound a few copies using Lulu, then cracked it open with some notes from some trusted friends . . .

I’m proud of this, for the first time. I read the whole book pretty fresh, trying to see it as a new reader might despite that I wrote the damned thing (arguably the single greatest stumbling block to revision), but the thing I keep noticing is that I like it.

I try to avoid “good.” Or “great.” Or “fucking rad.” But I’m so psyched that I can just about say, “Wow, I wrote a book I like.”

I’ve been cutting like mad. So far, I’ve hacked nearly 10,000 words off, and I’m hoping for another several thousand. But the cool thing is that I’ve noticed, after cutting the extraneous words, that the words that remain are shiny.

And I’m having fun. Oh, boyhow.

I thought I’d share a bit with you:

Chance laughed. “I’m not sure you could’ve, Cass.” He thought of all those traveling men with their quills and parchments, with their boats and their spears, and if he had possessed a compass, he would have taken it up to rechart the world before him, tygers be damned. This place was his. He claimed it. The present we share, but the past and the future belong to Chance.

Made me smile, anyway.

So, off to finish. My goal is this weekend. And then: submissions, as well as maybe a few sleeve-tricks. I’ve got nothing up them, but you should know by now I might just produce a rabbit, anyway.

Abracadabra, motherfucker.

Just done my own class/lecture, during which I taught “A Modest Proposal.” It’s difficult to imagine a time when Swift was his own era’s Jon Stewart, but that’s how it strikes me. The prompt I’m teaching specifically focuses on satire, but it also encompasses ideas of frameworks and Marshall McLuhan’s ideas of media being the message.

I use Swift as an exercise; his essay is good as satire, perhaps, but would it fly in our class? How would I grade it?

My students understand, by and large, that it would perform poorly, in terms of a grade, and, most important, why. And then we fix it.

I try to have some fun teaching it; last semester, the lesson went over like nothing else through the whole course–my students fully engaged, making jokes, and came up with some surprises. They seemed to have fun with it, and any time I can demonstrate how much fun writing can be, how awesome the process can really be, I feel like I’ve done my job. And so today we revised Swift. It came off pretty well, I think. Any time I can get my students to discuss the consumption of infants for nutritive purposes is, I think, rather funny. One other fun thing is the challenge of social mores; the idea of eating babies is awful, but lots of different cultures have their own culinary mores (Jews and pork, etc.).

I tried to really drive home the idea of a framework–that it’s not just what their papers say, but how they say it, and that they need to make explicit the connections they are making. Which, of course, ties back to McLuhan–Swift’s essay works in its medium, but changing that medium necessarily changes the implicit or explicit method.

I’m still uncertain whether it truly is a case of one being the other, though. As McLuhan states it, he uses a being verb–one is the other. Me, I tend to think it’s more subtle than that; one affects the other, but what you say and how you say it are, ultimately, two fantastically disparate things (even if they do, in fact, relate).

One idea that came up was when my student called me a ‘medium.’ I’m not sure about that either way, but I’m really glad they’re thinking.