Attacus Atlas & Other Inventions: Chopping block

Aloha! This week we are supposed to address “what we cut from our books and why:”

Well, technically I had almost everything deleted from my debut novel, The Atlas Of Reds and Blues. On May 17, 2010, the Georgia state police raided my home at gunpoint and confiscated, among other things, my laptop. Even though a state judge in Georgia dismissed all of the charges against my husband back in 2016, most of our belongings have yet to be returned. All that to say, I had to start over. Sure, I had some pieces of the family story I had written, only because I had emailed them to a friend. It took me four years to start this book anew. I had changed as a person and I had changed as a writer. Still, I was relieved I was writing at all. The events in my real life shaped the fiction and poetry I was writing. Gone was the pure family story with subtle hints of racism. Now the contextual glue of the story that would be my debut novel was the raid, with one central difference: what if the narrator had been shot? The novel was originally much longer, but as I edited it at the end of 2016, I realized that my Mother narrator was the most important voice. Everything that did not directly relate to her was chopped. The story went forward past the day of the raid, and all of that was chopped. It was important that the readers see the world through Mother’s eyes. It was important there was no clear resolution. And there was a certain tension and cadence that I was trying for: everything that didn’t match the pages I was holding on to was abruptly deleted. Pretty soon, I had excised about 40 pages. And I couldn’t be happier.


I’ve saved it all, all the pages and phrases and characters and themes I’ve had to cut. Because who knows when I might need them again?



Today The Atlas of Reds and Blues is the Kindle Deal of the Day! Please consider snagging a copy.

Author: Devi Laskar

Poet, photographer, soccer mom, VONA & TheOpEdProject alum, Columbia MFA, former reporter, debut novelist!