In his last post, Adam Langer set out to write a screenplay. His newest novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. He will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.
So, after a few revisions, I had a screenplay that I thought was decent. If nothing else, I thought it could serve as a calling card if I ever wanted to pitch Hollywood with a great literary adaptation idea. I sent it to my LA agent who said he wanted to show it to a fairly well-known director who would be coming by his office later in the week. I never heard a complete report on that meeting, but I figured that no news meant bad news. I started in on another revision, but kept getting hung up on details. I discussed my difficulties with my pal Jerome, who told me that I should rewrite the story as a novel. “That would take a while,” I said. “Nah,” he said. “I bet it would take a month.” I took that as a challenge and started work on the novel. I retained about 30% of the ideas from the screenplay, and wrote the rest from scratch, adding details inspired by some of my favorite literary hoaxes.
I began with a chapter about a character I called “The Suave Man.” I worked as fast as I could, as intensely as I knew how, aiming for 2,000 words per day. I typed to the beat of some aggressive music that I found inspiring and some even-more-aggressive music that I found even more inspiring. I rented a dreadful apartment during an even-more-dreadful winter in a somewhat hip Chicago neighborhood, not far from the home of a Jewish writer friend of mine. But at least the apartment did inspire me to write, and though I didn’t finish the first draft in one month as Jerome said I would, I did finish it in two. When I was done revising, I sent it to my agent, who sent it to my publisher, who said she wanted to publish it in July, 2010.
I completed revisions on September 10, 2009 at about 6 PM, just a few hours after writing a blurb for a book by a funny and talented college pal of mine and just a couple of hours before the birth of my second daughter, Solveig (insert purportedly pithy but actually presumptuous statement likening artistic production to childbirth here). That could have been the end of the story, but…
Adam Langer is a journalist, an editor, and the author of a memoir and five novels including the internationally best-selling novel Crossing California. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, he currently serves as culture editor at The Forward.