The Continuing Adventures of Editing Rewrites

It begins: having gone stir-crazy inside this bright room, with monsoon-typhoon rainstorms swishing their skirts over the skyscrapers outside, having been confined with a little roommate who screams maniacally every few hours, having been trapped with my own passions and procrastinations: it begins: I have been forced to do the unthinkable, and edit this (almost totally rewritten) work of fiction during my free time, and commit as many hours as possible to it—oh for eight hours a day!—and cannot simply push this labor away as I finish Anna Karenina and begin the Tolstoy biography by Henri Troyat, because it is like Harry Potter, and if I ignore the owls sending me letters my whole chimney will be flooded with them, my DNA will mutate, spontaneous psychokinesis will smash to powder every last bourgeois object in our apartment, and I will pace about like a black panther snarling back and forth along its ringing prison bars as the force gnaws down my bones and shows me ghosts pleading for justice with open arms and gaping skeletal jaws.

So I must give in, take out the fat manuscript from my backpack, settle into an uncomfortable chair, pull my shirt off my sweating belly, ignore the ache in my neck, and hunch over this piece of trash that is inferior to all that I love, this book without an audience, this waste of labor that will be ignored by everyone, these words that will achieve nothing, and gain me nothing but embarrassment and ridicule directed toward me from anyone with intelligence or culture or style—it is nothing but exploding spaceships, the characters are mere letters, the worthless story goes nowhere, it brims with cliches that would bore a child to tears—doubts assail me like a pack of black-wreathed specters—but I must read mentally with my quotidian mind that has read nothing but quotes everything, murmur to myself with dumb smacking lips, lift up the cheap Japanese pen, and attack!

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