New Year, New Voices: Evie of the Deepthorn

New Year, New Voices: Evie of the Deepthorn

Posted on February 6 by André Babyn in Fiction, Interview, News, Recent Releases
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Hello Canada,

Publishing a first book takes a long time. It was over a year ago that Dundurn accepted Evie of the Deepthorn for publication, a figure that doesn’t include years of writing, revising, and submitting, and we still aren’t quite there yet. As I write this, the upcoming release seems both too soon and too far away, like getting there requires a leap of incredible faith. In some ways I feel as if I’m Achilles shooting an arrow towards a target in one of Zeno’s famous paradoxes, watching the arrow halve the distance endlessly, never quite advancing. But I know that one day—and soon—the arrow will inevitably hit its mark, the book will be released, it will find its audience, and I’ll feel that strange mixture of excitement, relief, and disappointment that comes with hitting a major milestone and inevitably wondering—when you’re allowed a minute to breathe—what comes next.

Of course, talking about this process with Evie of the Deepthorn as the beginning doesn’t really represent the enormity of the journey. I started parts of the novel in 2012, but even at the time it was not the first novel I had worked on. When I was nineteen, fourteen years ago now, I remember thinking with despair that I didn’t already have a book out—as if I had already failed because I hadn’t found commercial success before I had lived a life or learned anything about writing.

My work didn’t find an audience in part because it wasn’t ready and in part because I wasn’t ready to send it out for evaluation. Yes, it’s possible to feel like you’ve failed as a writer even before you’ve started to pile up the rejections that will (inevitably) come. What I was looking for was a feeling that came to me when I finished the first draft of Evie, even knowing that it wasn’t quite done, that it would need revisions, and that even after that there would be a long way to go. It’s hard to describe exactly what that feeling is—but when I found it, it told me I had finally hit the mark.

I’d be lying if I said that was the first time I had felt that, even though it is different with a novel. In part, it’s one of the reasons I’m addicted to writing short stories. Fourteen years ago I had felt it, briefly, after completing a story that would later be published—my first—at Misunderstandings Magazine, edited at the time by the poet Jim Johnstone and the most recent Giller Prize-winner, Ian Williams. Now the story isn’t worth mentioning, but when I was done (I had written it in a flurry) I printed it out and put it in my coat pocket and went for a walk. It was 2 am. I had been procrastinating writing a Philosophy essay, and I lived at Yonge and Gerrard, which at the time was one of the more dangerous parts of Toronto.

I imagined dying on my walk somehow, a sudden, violent death that would have been okay because I had that story in my pocket. I imagined the police officers responding to my accident fishing the story out of my jacket and being struck by its eloquence. Of course it was an absurd thing to imagine—no one was going to look for literary excellence in that crumpled, bloodied printout. But I thought that in some small way my death might have been justified, not by the story necessarily but by the feeling.

On its own, that feeling alone is not enough to produce something worth publishing. But over the course of more than fourteen years it led to me write something that, I hope you’ll agree, was.

 

André Babyn

 

 

André Babyn

Posted by Kendra on April 30, 2019
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André Babyn

André Babyn has an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto. His short fiction has appeared in Maisonneuve, the Fanzine, Hobart, Grain, and elsewhere. He lives in Toronto.