recently completed her Masters of Philosophy in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. The Irish Times published her essay, The Winter Place and the Dublin-based literary magazine Sonder published her short story, Fields and Fields of Poppies.
A Crack Up
written by Virginia Evans
Virginia Evans wrote the first draft of her novel in 61 days. Seven days a week, she was at her desk with coffee by 5:00 am. She wrote 98,000 words while working three part-time jobs, with two children at home under age four. Then she defied the odds and managed to secure a literary agent. All of that turned out to be the easy part.
This candid essay is a fascinating glimpse into the process of writing, re-writing, and the strain of trying to please someone else. Recounting events that nearly destroyed her, Virginia opens up about her literary “crack up,” rooted in a lack of confidence in her writing.
The title is derived from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s essay, The Crack Up, which she references in this story.
© 2019 Virginia Evans | Recording © 2021 Rivercliff Books & Media. All rights reserved.
Virgina Evans recently completed her Masters of Philosophy in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. The Irish Times published her essay, The Winter Place and the Dublin-based literary magazine Sonder published her short story, Fields and Fields of Poppies.
Q&A with Virginia
Tell us about your story...
For my Masters course, I had to write a personal essay. For months I toyed with ideas about my family and upbringing, but on several occasions I got into conversations with my advisor about what had happened to the novel I’d finished a few years previous.
I was cagey in my responses, and he said he sensed I was ashamed about it. I tried to avoid the topic, but he dug in and unearthed the story of what had happened with my literary agent. I hadn’t cried in years, but I cried then, and he was quiet for a while. And then he said, “that’s your essay.”
What was the inspiration for this story?
The events in this essay destroyed me at a foundational level, and when I emerged from that period of my life, I shut it all up in a cellar and closed the hatch. I hadn’t ever opened it up, and I knew I needed to face it all again and try to make sense of what happened and move on.
When I was writing the essay, I forced myself to re-read old emails, drafts of the novel, and journals. It was painful, but it needed to be done!
Like opening a rotten wound so it can breathe. It was necessary for me to make peace with what happened, and the essay gave me a way to do it thoroughly and completely.
What have you read recently that you loved?
I only just finished reading The Color Purple, by Alice Walker with my international book club, and I was undone. I loved the way she wrote the bond of sisters, and I loved the way she wrote a story about all these sides and angles and crevices of love. The best book I read in 2020 was Stoner, by John Williams, but I can’t shake The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante either.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I have lots of pleasures (coffee and wine, reading instead of cleaning, TV, monthly massages, buying books) but I can’t say I feel guilty about any of them.
What fact(s) about you would most surprise people?
I don’t like eating out.
What's the best thing to happen to you recently?
My husband got a cush new job after a long, long wait, and he’s just delighted. It’s lovely to see him this way.
Tomorrow, I absolutely refuse to...
..hit the third snooze.
Who / What maeks you laugh?
My daughter is the funniest person I’ve ever met. Ted Lasso (HBO TV series), too.
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