Saturday, April 6, 2013

On My Next Big Thing

I have been tagged by the uber-talented Jennie Wood for this pyramid scheme for writers to answer a series of “interview” questions about their books—-upcoming or on the market—-and then tag three others. So here’s my opportunity for a little advance self-promotion.

What is the working title of your book? How to Write a Best Seller: A Novel

Which genre does your book fall under? For the moment, I’m going with upmarket women’s fiction with a touch of humor.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This novel originally started out as a screenplay so many years ago that my friend with whom I originally wrote it and I thought that Goldie Hawn would play the single law professor; Sally Field, the married market researcher; and Peter Gallagher, the young love interest. Clearly, none of these is age appropriate anymore.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? Two women in their middle years set out to write a novel about a woman with a perfect career and perfect romance only to realize that their own grittier lives offer the more compelling tale.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? That depends on what the starting point is! We finished the first draft of the screenplay in about six months and then spent years on revision. When I began novelizing it in 2006, I took at least two years to complete the first draft because I was working on another novel at the same time. It has been through many revisions since then, most recently with the crucial help of my Grub Street Novel Incubator class in 2011-2012 and my two incomparable Lisa Borders and Michelle Hoover.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I think more in terms of other authors whose work has some of the same flavor: Claire Cook, Elinor Lipman, Nick Hornby. It could also be considered a kind of Bridget Jones Diary for women in their middle years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? In the mid-90s, my friend and I decided that we could write something along the lines of Bridges of Madison County. In the course of concocting the original story, we realized that our own adventures in doing so were way more interesting. So this novel has autobiographical/ biographical roots, which we used as a jumping off point to tell the story we wanted to tell. My friend really does teach law to educators and her area of expertise is privacy rights/strip-searching of students, as is her fictional counterpart’s. Sometimes reality beats out fantasy (a major theme of the novel).

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? I have a background in developmental psychology. A lot of my work could be classified as coming-of-age across the life span with the characters figuring out who they are, what they want, and how they can conquer their demons, often demons from childhood. So although this novel has a humorous bent, I believe that many women might recognize themselves and their struggles in my two protagonists. It’s also a book about deep friendship. The story alternates back and forth between the points-of-view of the two main women protagonists. Structurally, it’s a meta-story. A story about a story. Of course, the hope is that the book my protagonists are writing will become a best seller, and so the meta-story is also about my fantasy that my novel will be a best seller.

When and how will it be published? I have started to query agents, so the answer to that question is out of my hands for the time being. I welcome representation. Stay tuned.

The following writing colleagues all have books out that they’d like you to take notice of. Check them out on Amazon. Guys, you’re it!

Jack B. Rochester Wild Blue Yonder: A Novel of the Sixties.

Stephen Turner All the Sad Goodbyes. A World War II saga.

Daniel Evans Weiss His latest- The Magic of Middle-Aged Women. Non-fiction. Hot!

Monday, April 1, 2013

On the Cycle of Creativity--Part II, The Writer

The Muser has returned!In my blog entry of July 2012, I discussed Jeanne Carbonetti’s seven stage Cycle of Creativity. So how might this process apply to writing a novel (or two), a central task of mine these last few years? I’ve taken a crack at it.

WAITING: The germ of the story forms until you can no longer resist it. You have a desire to create.

OPENING: You design your main character(s) and uncover what makes them tick; you begin to form the shape of the plot. Your mind is spinning with the possibilities. Maybe you start making lots of notes, creating character sketches, composing shards of unconnected scenes. Maybe you do some research. The project is still a fantasy without a body, but it has a spirit.

CLOSING: You are in the thick of your writing process, fingers flying on keyboard. It is all you can think about if you don’t let other things distract you. You are goal-focused.You produce a first draft at this stage. You’re proud of your baby. You feel like a writer.

HOLDING: Now what? Despite having a draft, your novel isn’t nearly finished. It needs revising. You may feel stalled, wanting to work on other projects. Maybe you let it gestate awhile until you are ready to attack it anew. You have a dream after all.

RELEASING: Now is the time to share your work with others and get feedback (and support), which you must accept gracefully and ingest rather than fight back. It is not your job to explain to your critiquers what they can’t see. It is your job to take what is right and good, to fix it so that what others see matches your vision for the project. You make as many revisions as you need to, sometimes feeling constipated and unable to let go. Take a laxative if you need it, whatever that is. Allow yourself to continue to release your story. That is your mission.

EMPTYING: When you can do no more, you will stop. It is done. It is time to send out your manuscript to agents and hope that they appreciate your vision.

SITTING: And then you wait until the agent calls with the good news, or you move on…. Time for another project. You will accept your destiny, whatever that is, and soldier on, hoping that a new desire starts to form.