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Posts Tagged ‘Zhorzha Trego’

Elephant pregnancies last approximately 95 weeks, and so I often think of my novels as baby elephants. They take a long time to gestate, they’re always a lot bigger than I think they will be, and once they’re loose in the world they’re adorably awkward. Or something like that. My new book is not much different. It took a year to write, a year to revise, it came in many tens of thousands of words over my goal, and when I think about it I’m both proud and a little scared.

I sold my new book back in June, but after some protracted debate about the title, I can finally send out the official “baby” announcement! The new book is titled THE RECKLESS OATH WE MADE, and it will be published by Putnam (an imprint of Penguin/Random) in the fall of 2019. Exact “due date” to be announced at a later time.

I am extremely excited about this book as it marries together a wide variety of my interests and concerns: poverty, health care, mental illness, medieval French literature, Middle English, sword fights, the Flint Hills, drugs, dogs, redheads, and guys with bad haircuts.

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I have been rather scarce these days, because I’ve been completing a serious revision on my next book. So often, people talk about writing as a mental task only. Soft work for soft people. The people who talk like this have never wrestled 300,000 words of chaos into a coherent story that will fit inside the covers of a book, and make people who read it laugh and cry. Writing is emotional labor, and intellectual labor, and physical labor. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
 
The printed manuscript weighs only eight pounds, and in its electronic form, it weighs nothing. The first few times I lift it, only testing its heft, but before it’s done, I will press, curl, and squat it millions of times. I will lift it until every muscle in my body sings an aria of pain. My shoulders have locked up, and my arms are burning with twenty years of nerve damage caused by this work.
 
Lift with your legs, that’s the advice about furniture, but when it comes to stories, you must lift with your whole body, including your heart, your viscera, the slippery goo of your brain.
 
At the end of this telling, my fingers are raw, my eyes are red, and veins in my legs have burst in protest of the punishment. There is no longer any writing position–sitting, standing, lying down–that doesn’t hurt.
 
So when they tell you that writing isn’t hard work, nothing like ditch digging or fire fighting, show them your wrecked back, your ruined hands, your rheumy eyes, the raw spaces between your flesh and your soul.

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