Edan Lepucki on How Editing Changed Time’s Mouth
In Conversation with Mitzi Rapkin on the First Draft Podcast
First Draft: A Dialogue of Writing is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with fiction, nonfiction, essay writers, and poets, highlighting the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft, and the literary arts. Hosted by Mitzi Rapkin, First Draft celebrates creative writing and the individuals who are dedicated to bringing their carefully chosen words to print as well as the impact writers have on the world we live in.
In this episode, Mitzi talks to Edan Lepucki about her new novel, Time’s Mouth.
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From the episode:
Mitzi Rapkin: So, you sold your book but it wasn’t in its final form. It’s interesting because I think a lot of people assume when you sell a book you’re not going to wholesale change it like you changed yours.
Edan Lepucki: You know, people say editors don’t edit, but I’ve been edited three times. I’ve always had editors who are super passionate and interested. This case was the most extreme where Dan Smetanka at Counterpoint Press bought the book. Before he bought it, we had a phone call about his ideas. And he was like, I don’t even know if you like this idea, but here it is. And at that point, I felt like this book had so many special parts to it but wasn’t totally working and I couldn’t figure out why. Dan is kind of a legend in the business, and I really trusted him. And I loved his idea. And I was like, let’s give it a shot. We kind of took this book down to the studs a little bit. Some of it is exactly how it always was and some of it is totally new material that just was there maybe a little bit of summary, and then I just blew it open and wrote 75 pages. And the ending is exactly how it always was, but we were sort of moving to get to that ending. I don’t know, maybe I’m not supposed to talk about how central my editor was, I feel like that’s maybe not allowed. You’re supposed to just pretend like this book arrived fully formed from the writer’s consciousness, but I think it’s useful for people to talk about the ways that their editors are involved in terms of having a vision for it, or a way to push you because Dan really challenged me and I know it’s a better book. I feel so much more confident about the book, and I feel like it came together in a way that it hadn’t come together before.
Edan Lepucki is the author of the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me and the novels California, Woman No. 17, and Time’s Mouth. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Cut, Romper, and McSweeney’s, among other publications.