in the spring of 2004, with the confidence one can only have as a graduate student straight out of undergrad, i wrote the eleventh chapter of a non-existent book.
because i had to read anna karenina in five days and my longing to compare the use of the first person plural narrators in a rose for emily and the virgin suicides never gained any traction, i wrote about jackie. i knew her life like the back of my hand. i figured writing about her would be a breeze.
it wasn’t. to this day, it isn’t.
i might’ve been a nicer person in graduate school had i known then that i would be wrestling that same chapter for that nonexistent book now. might’ve been less prideful, less hee, hee! you’re all trying to apply hegelian theory to the grapes of wrath while i’m reading tabloids and revising a chapter that i’ve finished three weeks before our thesis is due!
eight years later i am still revising that chapter. admittedly, it’s changed. there’s better characterization and structure, and it’s gone from the middle of the book to the beginning. but the guts are the same. and, much to my chagrin, it’s gotten a little dated.
way back in 2004, i made a mistake all rookie writers make. i assumed my book would be published immediately, to great fanfare. because of that, i opened with this sentence: “the fallout was instantaneous, the response was shock and awe.”
in my innocence, i didn’t realize an allusion to the war strategies of george w. bush might not be the way to go.