Writer's Digest

BREAKING IN

Amanda Goldblatt

Hard Mouth

(Literary fiction, August, Counterpoint Press)

“An adventure novel upended by grief and propelled by the aberrant charm of its narrator, Hard Mouth explores what it takes to both existentially and literally survive.”

Chicago. : This book is the first novel I ever tried to write. I waited until I felt crushed by an idea. Prior, and continuously, I wrote stories and essays. Several of these have been published in journals and magazines. Ten years ago, I wrote a long essay, called “Catalpa,” published by . I worked on this novel for seven or eight years. Between drafts, I wrote smaller works. But the work on was consistent and often relentless. I found my agent, Caroline Eisenmann, when she faved a Tweet I’d posted about being published client Brandon Hobson was in the same issue. I emailed her to see if she was accepting queries. She was. As someone who was used to DIY and small-press culture, the supporting labor by Counterpoint/Catapult was a surprise at every phase. They did things for me: the editing, copy editing, and proofreading, of course, but also jacket copy, marketing materials, tour organization, design, and, and, and. It was strange but important to me to practice holding on to control where it mattered and loosening it everywhere else. Usually, writing requires one brain. Publishing may require more. I’m grateful for the more. About five years in, I sent around a draft of the novel, but no one was interested. I was sad but didn’t stop. I went back into the draft and kept working until I felt I had refined it into the sharpest version of itself. I just didn’t quit. My community consists of connections that I’ve nurtured with reading and showing up and listening and remaining engaged. The best thing a writer, or any artist, can do is to support other artists. Do this without expectation of reciprocity. Also, as my mother taught me, write thank-you notes. We do not always have to be producing. When I am not writing I am reading, thinking, and taking notes. I was always told to write every morning or evening, and so on. But I am doing the thing they tell you not to do: Writing only when I am in it. You will produce less but what you produce might be better. At the least: You will have been thoughtful, and that is never a mistake. I’m working on another novel, about women, swimming, and gentrification.

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