There are two schools when it comes to talking about your work in progress (WIP). The first is that you don't talk about it at all. Period. The second is that you talk about nothing else. I'm kind of a combination of both, and over the years I've become much more of the second. But my current WIP necessitates me talking about my work with a lot of people, and it's taken over such a huge part of my life that it's basically all I think about. So when the talented, beautiful, amazing Jessica Cooper asked me to participate in The Next Big Thing blog game, I agreed.
Here are ten questions (and answers) about my current WIP.
What is the working title of your book?
Okay, maybe this isn't going to be as easy as I thought. Right now it's just kind of labeled "Grandmother Poems," but that is just about the worst title possible and kind of makes me dread scrolling to the top of my manuscript. I've been tossing around some ideas like "Forest of Things" and "Children of No Country," but my working titles usually go through several amalgamations before I settle on something I don't hate.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
After complaining to a friend that I can't finish anything, he asked me the most basic question: "Why?" That made me think far more than you would expect. It also made me realize that I couldn't get to the end of anyone's story because the beginning of my own is all muddled. So I started at the beginning, writing about the grandmother. How very meta of me.
What genre does your book fall under?
Creative nonfiction is kind of the catch-all for what I'm working on. It's parts poetry, biography, memoir, speculation. Who knows what it will be in the end.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
All unknowns. My characters are very vivid in my head, so I'm not sure I'd be able to say who would "fit" the part best. Good thing I'm not a casting director, or even a screen writer.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I will be the one to mark her grave: Leona Rodak Gaglione, 1917-1979, beloved wife and mother.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I can't imagine what agency would be willing to represent this type of book, so it might end up being self-published. But hopefully my other WIPs will get my foot in the door of an agency that's willing to take a chance on this.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This is a WIP and very much in the early stages, but I'm hoping to have a draft finished within a year.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It's a little like A Step From Heaven by An Na with elements of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer and Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove. (Yes, I did just compare my mess of a WIP to Printz Award-winner, a classic novel, a New York Times best-seller and a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. And yes, I am aware that this could possible be the most ridiculous comparison ever made.)
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My grandmother's family immigrated from Poland a few years before she was born, and their lives were far from easy. My grandmother made some very bad choices in her life that still affect my family, but I've also seen how my father has been able to forgive and overcome the past. This book is an exercise in forgiveness.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
When most people think of immigrants in the early 20th century, they mostly think about New York City and the Ellis Island Experience. This WIP, however, is set in Omaha. When a lot of people think about Poland, they think about a country in Eastern Europe that gets invaded by just about everyone that is now a member of the European Union. This WIP, however, is about the strong cultural identity of a people with no country. I like exploring the unexpected, and I think others will like it as well.
I'm not a big fan of "tagging" people, but if you do a Next Big Thing post, let me know. I'd love to find out what you're working on!