Maddie Gregorski on writing The Neural Network

by Wilde Press Spring ’23 Author Maddie Gregorski

It all started with a single scene: an argument. I spent so many nights replaying those few lines in my head and slowly building a conversation. The perfect couple at the dinner table, fighting over something that didn’t matter. Insults were tossed around, threats of divorce were thrown, and sharp talk turned to yelling. I thought this story was going to be one of a rocky marriage. I thought that’s what the book would be—a couple letting go of the facade. But after I wrote the first few pages of the book, I realized I was absolutely wrong, it was far more than that. And so The Neural Network was born. 

I won’t lie, I like a little bit of drama—or rather, the kind that doesn’t involve me. While sitting at a restaurant with my partner, we were beside two people on a first date. The guy talked and talked about his wonderful life, all the while his date sat in almost complete silence. As I listened to their conversation, I was sure he wouldn’t get a second date. Days after that, I listened to another couple, two booths down, arguing over their coming life together. I thought back to that first date from before. Because I imagined how, if it had developed into a relationship, that’s where they would end up: fighting about their future as a couple. That’s where the main characters, Elsie and Basil’s, relationship began. 

I took those two conversations, and that first scene, that first argument, formed. So, after all that time writing the lovers spat in my head, I sat down, opened a document page, and got to writing. I had known Wilde Press was taking submissions, but came to realize they were a week away from closing. So I scrambled to write a second draft, staying up until 3am to get things 

done. And though I wasn’t entirely confident in what I submitted, I prayed they would see its potential and select my manuscript for the semester. So I was left to impatiently wait. Not long later, though, I received an email. I had been accepted! It felt unreal, and I was ready to dive in head first . 

First I attended author editorial night, where I met the wonderful Pub Club staff, the publishers, Sara Fergang and Teresa Moritz, as well as the other author, Teya Sorenson. With everyone present, I signed my contract and the official publishing process began! 

Once it was all finalized, I was aching to get my substantive editing letter back. When I did receive it, one thing became apparent: the ending needed to be changed. They had given me some amazing suggestions, and I ended up taking those proposals and blending them with my own ideas—and I am so glad I did. Then, after I finally finished the final draft, copyediting began. It was really cool to see all of my odd grammar quirks I had never noticed before. But the best part of the copyediting process: they fixed my terrible usage of the semicolon (my worst enemy) and supported my use of the em dash (my best friend). 

Once we had gotten the content and grammar out of the way, I got to pick the art for my cover. It was one of my favorite parts, and arguably the hardest. Every single one of the covers I was offered were exceptional, and I had to slowly narrow it down before I settled on the one that I felt was the best fit. When my cover was set in stone, we started the marketing. It was tons of fun. I got to make a playlist—which I based off of Elsie’s emotions through the course of the book—and answer some super fun questions for Pub Club’s instagram. Teya and I also made an appearance on Good Morning Emerson, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so professional.

Every part of the publication process was such an incredible experience, and I am so grateful for the opportunity Wilde Press gave me. I can’t believe I’m going to see my own book in print, it still hasn’t totally set in yet. But I can’t wait for our launch! It’s definitely worth coming to visit us at the Bill Bordy on April 29, from 2-5! The best part: all proceeds from The Neural Network go to The Innocence Project, which helps fight wrongful convictions and lobbies for reform of the American Justice system.

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