Jia Tolentino Remembers the Books She Started and the Books She Shelved

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At final count, the manuscript was three hundred and six pages and almost seventy-eight thousand words long. There were fifteen chapters, all of which I’d edited several dozen times. In retrospect, that seems sensible—what you’d want to do, when a book was concerned—and also insane, as I don’t remember any of it. Editing is a fugue state; the time self-erases. I’d have forgotten about it altogether except for the fact that the weight of the effort has lifted only gradually, and also, the fact that the evidence is two clicks away: the evolution of an idea from nothing to something to nothing again sits peacefully in a folder named “Novel!” that I dragged off my desktop early in the fall.

At The Awl, Jia Tolentino looks back at the two novels she started but never finished, and what she learned about writing.

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