The Next Big (Beastly) Thing

Bernadette Geyer kindly tagged me to participate in this "Next Big Thing" meme that's been floating around the blogs of novelists and poets and short story writers for the past two months (I think it's been two months). While I suppose there's some argument (in my head, only) to write about my poetry manuscript as my "Next Big Thing," I think I'll answer the questions as they relate to my verse play project -- partly as a way of getting my head back into the project, and as a way to kind of organize my thoughts as I gear up to (once again) birth this beast. (To be clear: the verse play, not Vampire Baby. It's too early for Vampire Baby yet. I think. I hope!)


What is your working title of your book (or story)? 
The astoundingly creative and apt "Verse Play."
For a while I tossed around the idea of "Thunder, Lightning, Rain." It comes from Macbeth, specifically the first lines of the play delivered by the first of the three weird sisters:

1 Witch. When shall we three meet again.
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Then her sister answers, prophetically:

2 Witch. When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.

That exchange pretty much sums up the action of the play, too. Hurlyburly and battling. (Not real battles involving swords or guns or fisticuffs. INNER BATTLES. BATTLES OF THE HEART. Wait. That sounds pretty lame, huh? SOME BATTLES INVOLVING FISTICUFFS. That sounds better.)
Anyway. I'm not really sure if the title will stick. I'd rather write most of the play first and then worry about a title. So for now, I'll just refer to it with the more utilitarian, "Verse Play."
Where did the idea come from for the book? 
Mine little head, of course. 
Actually, that's not true. I have a rather large head, AND the idea was sparked by an exercise in a writing workshop I took with Derek Walcott in 2008. He asked us to write monologues in verse, from the point of view of a veteran.  I chose my Great Aunt Iris, who was a nurse in WWII. I wrote that poem and thought, I'd like to write more of these. And I'd like to write an entire play. And then I became distracted by writing the poems in Fabulous Beast, and that kept me preoccupied for about four years, so now I'm just beginning to immerse myself in this thing called playwriting-with-poetry again.
What genre does your book fall under? 
Poetry. Playwriting. (Self-help? Cooking?)
If the play actually makes it to book form, and if bookstores are still in existence at that point, then it will matter, I suppose.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
This is silly question for poets who participate in this meme, but it works relatively well for playwrights and fiction writers, I guess. I like the idea of writing a play that uses mostly older actors. Fuck those young whippersnappers! you know? But the way I've imagined the play, the actors will have to be young enough to also portray youth, physically. 

For instance, in Act I, I have this idea that my protagonist will, after demonstrating that she's succumbing to dementia, suddenly have a very lucid, pointed conversation with her sister-from-30-or-40-years-ago. Whether the conversation is a product of her memory or something dictated by the dementia may or may not be made clear, but the scene will require the actor to carry herself very differently, physically -- so that she appears to be herself-from-30-or-40-years-ago.
I guess I don't have an answer that lists specific actors. I just know what kind of actors.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

"Verse Play" is a heartwarming, rollicking good time featuring dames and their gams, wise guys and their fisticuffs, and good old-fashioned frolicking down memory lane -- starring Bruce Willis and Demi Moore!

I'm being insincere. I haven't written it yet so I can't really know what it's absolutely about. But its subject is memory.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
AHEM. Excuse me.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It's actual piecemeal inside a tote bag in my living room. Numerous notes, rough drafts, sketches, etc. I began in 2008. I wrote some of the first act in 2010, when I took a playwriting class with Annie Baker. And, as you may know if you've read this blog recently, I wrote some monologues in November of 2012 and began revising them in January 2013.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Because I haven't finished it, again, I can't really answer this question, either. (Maybe I should have used Fabulous Beast to answer these questions, after all!) I will say that I've assigned myself a long list of verse drama to read for guidance/inspiration, including some verse plays of Harriet Monroe (of Poetry magazine fame), Shenandoah by Delmore Schwarz, and Plays One and Plays Two by Glyn Maxwell, etc. 
But I kind of hope to write a verse play that's performable and has appeal beyond the poetry world, too. I'm not sure, then, what work I'd compare my play, too. (Again, *sigh*, this might be easier if I'd finished writing it at this point.)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Your mom. 
Ha! I'm punchy. That's what happens when you spend all day in a house with two four-year-old boys. (The Boy had a playdate!) 
But really: the lives of my maternal grandmother and her sisters inspired me to write this play. Their lives were filled with rather incredible, almost unbelievable events, the kind where you wonder how did all of that happen to just one person? and I hope to use some or most of those events and do them justice. I doubt seriously, however, that the characters in my play will end up resembling the women themselves very closely. If anything, they'll resemble various aspects of my own personality/psyche, I think. (And that should be a selling point for the play, should it not? SKG in triplicate? AND for three acts? YES PLEASE!)

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I don't know. I'm not trying to sell the thing. I'm trying to write it. That seems the important thing, right now.


Well, that's it for me. I'm going to tag Adam Penna, who writes the blog "Starting from Poetry," and Elizabeth Cone, author of "This is Not My Narrative" for this meme next. You're welcome, friends!


Anonymous said…
Loved this! You young whippersnapper!

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